The Fair Play award ceremony took place on October 15 in Budapest, Hungary. Belarusian sambist Stepan Popov was awarded a special diploma for gallantry during competitions at the 2015 European Games in Baku. The hero talked about the ceremony in an exclusive interview with the FIAS website.
“Everything was well organized. They met me and my wife at the airport and took us to the hotel. On the first day, we had a tour of the city, and in the evening there was a friendly dinner in a restaurant, where we met with other prizewinners and members of the Fair Play Committee,” Popov said. “Members of the Fair Play Committee are generally honored and respected people from different countries, including many former athletes, champions and Olympic medalists, as well as important representatives of sports organizations, committees and ministries of their countries. They are very honorable people who have all been working on the Fair Play Committee for a long time, most of them for 60 years now. Their experience and wisdom command respect.”
As Popov told us, the award ceremony was held in a festive atmosphere at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. The event was attended by many distinguished guests, including former President of Hungary Pal Schmitt.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t show the video about my act at the ceremony. However, after the award, a large number of people who knew the details of my act at the European Games approached and congratulated me. They said that was one of the most impressive acts of Fair Play they’d ever seen,” Stepan said. “Many people were interested in what our relations with Amil Gasimov were now and asked a lot questions about SAMBO. It turned out that many of them not only didn’t know about SAMBO before that, but also asked what kind of country Belarus was and where it was situated.”
Popov said he talked in detail about SAMBO – what this beautiful sport was, with lots of throws and painful holds, how it had developed in many countries around the world, and about his hopes that “SAMBO will become an Olympic sport in the near future”.
“We tried to create the most positive impression so that everyone heard about our country and our favorite sport. I think we’ve succeeded. Many thanks to my wife, Anastasia, who provided the beauty of our couple and supported me that night,” Popov said.
“I’m also very grateful to the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus, which not only nominated me for the Fair Play prize, but also sent me to the award ceremony. And, of course, many thanks to the International SAMBO Federation. If it weren’t for FIAS, I would never have been nominated for this award,” the athlete said.
Stepan Popov became the first sambist ever to receive a prestigious award of the International Fair Play Committee – a diploma for a gesture in the spirit of fair competition. The award was presented to the athlete following a meeting of the Executive Committee of the international Fair Play organization. Popov was nominated by the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Belarus with the support of the International SAMBO Federation and the Belarusian Sports Press Association.
A total of 49 candidates from more than 20 countries were nominated for competition awards in the “Gesture of Fair Play”, “Promotion of Fair Play”, “Career in the Style of Fair Play” and “Youth” categories. Following the results of a vote, the members of the Executive Committee named the 32 best candidates, who were awarded special prizes, diplomas and acknowledgments.
Belarusian sambist Stepan Popov made a gesture in the style of Fair Play in the final match of the first European Games in Baku, when he carried his injured opponent off the mat.
This act evoked a wide response around the world. The video had hundreds of thousands of views on the Internet, and was also included in the video clip for the presentation of SAMBO and FIAS at the Congress of European Media in Minsk in 2015.
It was at this Congress that the NOC of Belarus and the Belarusian Sports Press Association, on the initiative of FIAS, decided to apply for nomination of Stepan Popov for a Fair Play award. The hero himself was nicknamed “noble” in the media.