EMTF 06.06.2024

The IFMA Senior World Championships 2024 are currently taking place in Patras, Greece. We interviewed one of Estonia’s representatives - Markus Mittal and his trainer Kristo Männistu. 


Both physical and mental preparations are necessary when it comes to competitions. How did you prepare for the World Championships?
Kristo Männistu: We already started with the physical preparations in February since we had two competitions (Yakuza Fight 6, and The League) before the World Championships. We had to mix our training up a bit since both of these competitions were in K-1 rules, and the Championships were with Muay Thai rules. We took a full focus on Muay Thai fighting from the beginning of May, Markus trained with trainer Zee to perfect his traditional Thai style techniques. 
Markus has a very strong and sturdy mindset, we have prepared his mentality for competitions for two years. We have watched different international matches together, visualized a mixture of possible situations and matches. 


Markus, as Kristo mentioned, a few weeks before the World Championships you competed in another international competition - The League. Did that match affect you in any way? Maybe it gave you a boost of motivation? Maybe an injury held you back at the Championships? 
Markus Mittal: Winning at The League definitely gave me a boost of motivation and confidence. My left shin was aching a bit after it, but no such injury could decrease my performance at the Championships. 


How was your trip to Patras, Greece? Flying for quite a few hours, and then taking the bus for another few hours could have been pretty tiresome. 
Kristo Männistu: We had a connecting flight to Patras. First flight was from Tallinn to Milan for 3.5h, then waiting for the second flight for 2.5h, and finally a flight from Milan to Athens for 2.5h. On top of that we also had to wait for 2.5h for the transfer bus would pick us up to take us to our hotel. It was a long day - we departed from Tallinn, Estonia at 12:25pm, and made it to our hotel in Patras, Greece at 03:00am the next morning. 
Markus Mittal: It was incredibly tiresome, I wouldn’t have believed that getting to Patras would take such a long time! By the end of the day we were crazily tired and hungry. But in the end, all is well. 


What were your first thoughts about the World Championships? Did you have a lot of anticipation about the upcoming matches? 
Kristo Männistu: To be honest, my first impressions weren’t all that great. There was a lot of confusion & back and forth with our hotel room and the bills. We had to pay a lot more than we first anticipated, even after explaining, proving and arguing with the hotel. 
Another bump on the road was (and is) the transportation - all the delegations have had issues with the buses running late, by a lot. For some apparent reason, they organized that you get the lunches and dinners at the arena, which is 30 minutes away from our hotel. Given the transportation issues, it would take a huge chunk of time just to eat. We decided to dine at the hotel or at a nearby restaurant just for our nerves sake. But that is also an expenditure that we didn’t foresee coming. I’m quite frightened to think about our trip back home. The airport is three hours away, the flight departs at 10:25am, and we should be at the airport at least two hours prior. 
Of course if we leave these few hiccups out, then it is a world class event. 79 countries, 1200 athletes-trainers - our first World Championship done!


This time you had the chance to take on one competitor, unfortunately Markus lost this bout, and that was the end of your road at the championship. Kristo, how did Markus handle this match? Was there anything that he could have done better? What was the opponent like? 
Kristo Männistu: Markus’s opponent Tom Podvin from France definitely had a lot more experience - he won second place in last year’s IFMA-EMF U23 & Youth European Muaythai Championships, and also holds a Rajadamnern Stadium title. But Markus stood strong, and didn’t let that get to him, he did well. So far Markus has only had 13 matches, and in my opinion the different experience levels didn’t show that much during their match in Patras. Of course you can always do better, but this time we did our best, and there was nothing more we could do than just that - our best. 
I am happy with Markus’s performance at the championships. It doesn’t matter that we only had one bout, and the championships got cut shorter than we wanted. We saw that we belong here! 


Markus, your trainer is very proud of your performance at the championships, how did the match seem for you? Did you learn something that you could take with you for the next matches? 
Markus Mittal: It wasn’t anything scary, but the rounds felt terribly long compared to previous competitions. I knew that this match was going to be difficult because my opponent has a lot of experience. I even surprised myself by my level since for the first time I used elbows and middle kicks very successfully. I even pulled off a few sweeps. 
This match definitely taught me what I have to train more. My technique was quite on point, now we have to work on my endurance & breathing. Maybe I should have noticed more opportunities when to finish the match by taking advantage of the opponents mistakes. This season definitely taught me a lot, and gave me a huge baggage of knowledge. Next season I will definitely be bigger and better. 


Like you said, this season taught you a lot, but I still have to ask - what’s next? Do you have another competition, another match waiting for you? Or will you take some time off to rest and gather yourself? 
Kristo Männistu: We will take some time off from competitions during summer, but we will still train nonetheless. We have on competition for autumn, but we will talk more about that when the time is right. 
We want to take on more amateur matches since in the future we definitely want to win a medal at an IFMA competition. Since IFMA competitions are mostly for amateur fighters, the scoring system is different, U23 has full body protection, and the elite class has no body protection. There is a huge difference between professional and amateur matches! 


Estonian Muay Thai Federation thanks Markus Mittal and his trainer Kristo Männistu for representing Estonia at the Senior World Championships. We cannot wait to see what the next challenges they take on. If you missed Mittal’s Monday match, you can watch it again on the official IFMA Youtube channel here
Sigrid Kapanen and her trainer Ringo Tipp are also competing at the Senior World Championships. Kapanen has an upcoming semi-final match on Friday, June 7th. You can watch her match on the official IFMA Youtube channel. Sigrid’s opponent is Huong Nguyen Thi from Vietnam, the match will take place in Ring C. 


Article written and edited by Erika Maalt (erika@emtf.ee)
Photo by Kristo Männistu