China's Liu Maoyi, third from the right, won his under 179cm category and overall men's physique gold on the first day of the IFBB World Fitness Championships in Bialystok, Poland ©ITG

China finished the opening day of the International Federation of Fitness and Bodybuilding (IFBB) World Fitness Championships at the Podlaskie Opera here in Bialystok, Poland with a golden flourish that was well appreciated by a healthy and knowledgeable crowd.

Chinese competitors won the final three men’s physique classes before claiming the overall title thanks to their winner of the up-to-179cm category, Liu Maoyi, who received his medal from the IFBB President Rafael Santonja.

Silver in Maoyi's category went to Norway's Rashid Kwarasey, with home athlete Piotr Ziolinski taking bronze.

Maoyi's team-mate Lin Zhenqu then won the up-to-182cm category ahead of France's Pierre Murcia and Randy Tutu of Norway.

Wu Cheniong then made it a hat-trick in the over 182cm final, with silver going to Sidy Pouye of Spain and bronze to Momar Bah of Finland before Maoyi received the ultimate accolade.

In so doing he beat the three winners of the earlier men's physique categories.

Japan's Ryo Terashima and Yoshitake Tamura took gold and silver respectively in the up-to-170cm class, with bronze being claimed by Wei Yunfeng of China.

The up-to-173cm class was won by Lithuania's Renatas Suleimanovas, ahead of David Ouamba of Finland and Norway's Ronnaphum Angkaew, and the up-to-176cm category went to Enrique Caro, with France's Maxime Herchy taking second place and Poland's Marcin Zganiacz third.

Jubilation knew few bounds as it was announced here that home athlete Dagmara Dominiczak had won the women's wellness fitness gold medal in the under-163cm category ahead of Mariia Kozorev and bronze medallist Danica Geier of Germany.

Ukraine's Olga Kulinych, second last year in the women's wellness fitness over 163cm category, settled for silver again as the title went to Italy's Lexy Oliver and bronze was won by Argentina's Florencia Tazzioli.

Italy's Lexy Oliver, winner of the women's wellness fitness over-163cm gold and overall world title, stands alongside IFBB President Rafael Santonja, left, and Pawel Filleborn, President of the Polish Bodybuilding Federation ©IFBB
Italy's Lexy Oliver, winner of the women's wellness fitness over-163cm gold and overall world title, stands alongside IFBB President Rafael Santonja, left, and Pawel Filleborn, President of the Polish Bodybuilding Federation ©IFBB

The immediate silence in the hall was almost deafening as the judges then announced that Oliver had won the women’s wellness fitness overall title ahead of Dominiczak. 

But after a second or two of dismay, the home crowd picked up with some sporting applause for the statuesque Italian, who received her trophy from President Santonja.

Russia's Olga Lutsenkno won the first gold of the day in the women's bodyfitness up-to-158cm class, with silver going to Nadia Stolirova of Ukraine and another Russian, Evegeniia Formicheva, taking bronze.

There was high excitement as the women's bodyfitness up-to-163cm class came down to either home athlete Martyna Staszewska or Lithuania's Virginija Kaminska, and the atmosphere dipped only slightly when the Lithuaninan - who would subsequently earn the overall women's bodyfitness title - got the nod, with bronze going to Marte Lian of Norway.

Kaminska's colleague Viktoriia Kozinets was a highly emotional winner of the up-to-168cm class, with the Czech Republic's Tereza Linhartova second and Ekaterina Petrova of Russia third.

The tallest women's bodyfitness category, the over 168cm, went to Aksana Yukhno of Belarus, ahead of Ukraine's Alina Yaman and Liudmila Makarova of Russia.

Ukraine dominated the women's physique categories, with Nataliia Dichkovska winning the up-to-163cm class - where Russia's Natalia Bystrova took silver and Spain's Yesenia Garcia bronze - and Viktoriia Pohribniak claiming gold in the over 163cm class ahead of Hungary's Beata Harcos and Aleksandra Krzyworzeka of Poland.

The overall women's physique title went to the smaller Ukrainian.

Earlier in the day, as the men's and women's fitness competitors took part in elimination rounds and semi-finals ahead of today’s finals, Nasser Kharkhun of Ukraine put down an awesome marker of his status as favourite in the men's fitness open section.

The power and control he displays in a series of ever more excruciating handstands got a spontaneous round of applause mid-routine.

Tomorrow's programme, which will start with an Opening Ceremony and parade of nations - 43 are due to be taking part here in a competition involving around 450 athletes - also includes the women's bikini fitness classes and the mixed pairs event.

Competition will conclude with the IFBB Elite Pro World Men's Physique Championships.