by The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. 
Boasting over 80 pristine white sand beaches spread across its 60 miles
of coastline, Barbados offers diverse coastal experiences for beach lovers. These stunning beaches are central to the island’s appeal, welcoming locals and visitors from around the world who come to bask in the sun and swim in the crystal clear waters, immersing themselves in the island’s rich beach culture. 
Barbados offers a range of water-related activities and sports, such as surfing, snorkelling, and swimming, with the dynamic sport of beach wrestling the fastest growing. Recognised in 2004 by United World Wrestling (UWW) [the international governing body for amateur wrestling], beach wrestling is still a relatively new sport. However, it has grown in popularity in various coastal regions worldwide due to its accessibility, low cost of competing and the exciting and unique experiences it offers. 
Growth and success 
Barbados has participated in beach wrestling for seven years, with their athletes making significant strides. Currently, there are 10 local athletes competing in the sport. 
Initially, the Barbadian beach wrestlers were often underestimated by their competitors, being seen as easy practice rounds for the more experienced and skilled athletes. 
However, this perception has changed, and our wrestlers have shown themselves to be worthy opponents, gaining the respect of their peers. Their success gives the Barbados Wrestling Association (BWA) hope that Barbados can qualify for the 2026 Youth Olympics in Dakar, Senegal, where beach wrestling will be featured at that level for the first time. 
Anyone can get involved 
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there
was much interest in the sport. However, when COVID hit and contact sports were suspended, beach wrestling lost some of its appeal. Keen to regain momentum, the BWA has been hosting open sessions at two of our most famous and picturesque beaches (Brandon’s and Browne’s beaches) for people interested in training to experience this action-packed, contemporary wrestling style. 
Beach wrestling has simple rules that are easy to understand, so it is an excellent activity for anyone—men, women, and even kids. The objective is to score three points before your opponent does. Points are accumulated by executing a takedown or pushing the opponent out of bounds, with one point awarded in each case. Wrestlers are awarded three points if they successfully perform a feet-to-back takedown. Matches are three minutes long, and the action begins in the standing position. 
Ormond Haynes, secretary of the BWA, says that beach wrestling is a highly disciplined sport that incorporates elements of martial arts, although some people see it as merely playing around. He added that beach wrestlers are respectful of their opponents and the sport. 
The association is currently developing a variation of the sport for children called ball wrestling. Instead of physically wrestling each other, the competitors try to hold on to ball placed in the middle of the ring. This variation helps develop wrestling skills at a young age, while reducing the risk of injury. 
Natural infrastructure in place 
There has been a natural interest in beach wrestling because it is inexpensive compared to its cousin, “mat wrestling”. A basic training mat can cost as much as 15,000 USD, and wrestlers must acquire protective gear and singlets. With beach wrestling, there is no need for equipment or special clothing. 
And what better place for beach wrestling than Barbados, which boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the world? The island is an ideal location for beach wrestling athletes to train, gain technical knowledge, and host regional and international tournaments. 
That’s why encouraging people to enjoy two or three days of beach wrestling in paradise should be a breeze, and Barbados is already making its mark. The Barbados Open (organised by the BWA in 2022) was a great success, attracting beach wrestlers from the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and the United Kingdom. The BWA has teamed up with the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) to host the Barbados Open – 2023 as part of the BiiG Games in November, when it again expects to welcome several overseas athletes. 
Looking ahead 
The BWA has shown that it has what it takes to make Barbados a hub for beach wrestling, and it is continuing that effort. Looking ahead, it intends to develop the Barbados Open as a two-day event—a tournament on one day and training sessions for coaches, referees and athletes on the other.