Sofia Olofsson, SWE
Sofia Olofsson, the fighter from Sweden, won the gold medal (weight class 54 kg) at the IFMA Muaythai World Championships in Jönköping/Sweden. IFMA announced that IWGA Athlete of the Month for May 2016 was also selected as best Female athlete at the World Championships in her homeland, too. Sofia Olofsson became the first woman to qualify for The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw/Poland after winning the gold medal at the IFMA Muaythai Royal World Cup last August in Bangkok/Thailand. The Muaythai fighter, winner of the Queen’s trophy in 2015, has not only become a sporting legend in the world of Muaythai but also in her homeland, Sweden. She promoted the event in Sweden as an ambassador.
Marcin Dzieński, POL
Marcin Dzieński secured first place in the IFSC 2016 Speed rankings. It is the first Overall win for the twenty-three-year old after winning the World Cups in Villars (SUI), Arco (ITA) and Chamonix (FRA). Becoming the Overall champion crowned a very successful season. Marcin Dzieński was the first ever Polish World Champion in Sport Climbing. He won gold at the IFSC World Championship in Paris this September. After the final run, the Olympic Channel posted a video asking: "Did we just see the Usain Bolt of sports climbing?" The IWGA Athlete of the Month for October 2016 is now aiming for more. On Facebook he stated: "I got it all, but now it is time for something even bigger – The World Games 2017."
Ray Williams, USA
Ray Williams has won his third consecutive IPF Classic World Powerlifting Championship. At the event in Killeen/Texas (USA) 29-year-old IWGA Athlete of the Month for June 2016 also set a new squat world record at 438 kg and a new total world record at 1,043 kg. The athlete from the USA, performing in the Super Heavyweight weight class, made waves in the International Powerlifting Federation when he became the first man to squat 410 kg. Ray Williams is a class act on the platform when he competes, and a man of character off the platform as an ambassador for his sport. The Fox Sports channel said about him: “Ray Williams is a very strong man.” No way, to deny this.
Gabriele Goffredo & Anna Matus, MDA
Gabriele Goffredo and Anna Matus, the Latin couple from Moldova, won their first World Championship in Vienna, AUT, in November 2015. Since then they have remained undefeated. They were finalists in every (!) competition since 2011. The IWGA Athletes of the Month for March 2016 are the reigning World Games champions, having won the Latin event at TWG 2013 in Cali/Colombia in front of a crowd of 17,000 at the bullfighting arena. At the same time, they stirred a great deal of controversy with a very personal and exuberant style of interpreting the five Latin dances. Love them or hate them - that summed up the range of reactions. They just didn’t leave anyone indifferent!
Tove Alexandersson, SWE
Tove Alexandersson has had a fantastic orienteering season. She was crowned World Champion in both the long and middle distance at the World Orienteering Championships on home ground in August 2016. The 24-year-old athlete from Sweden also claimed the long- and middle-distance titles at the European Championships in the Czech Republic in May. For the third year in a row she won the overall World Cup in Orienteering. In the 2015-2016 season she also won the overall World Cup in Ski Orienteering. Her year has gained her a nomination as Female Athlete of the Year in Sweden. She was the winner of the middle-distance silver medal at The World Games 2013 in Cali and IWGA Athlete of the Month for February 2015.
Peter Kotilainen, FIN
Peter Kotilainen won the International Floorball Federation (IFF) Men's World Championship as a member of the Finnish team. The squad from Finland defeated their rivals Sweden 4-3 after a dramatic penalty shoot-out at the Arena Riga in Latvia. After the final, he was selected as the “Most Valuable Player” of the Tournament, and received the ASICS Golden Shoe MVP Trophy, presented by John Liljelund, Secretary General of the IFF. The right-winger scored two goals in the final, ensuring that Finland twice levelled the lead of Sweden (2-0, 3-2). During the World Championship, the 22-year-old forward scored ten goals and gained six points as an assist, making him the best scorer at this year’s event and a member of the All-Star-Team.
Mixed Team, USA
The mixed team of the USA won the gold medal at WFDF 2016 World Ultimate & Guts Championships (WUGC) in London (Great Britain). They defeated the Australian squad 15-6. The most successful player of the US ultimate team was Jack Hatchett who scored two goals and two assist points. But one thing was certain: the finals win was a victory for the whole team which defended their title. Moreover, Team USA’s strong results at WUGC 2016 secured them a spot at the upcoming World Games 2017, where they are the three-time defending champion and favorites going into the competition. This year in London the USA celebrated golden days. Team USA swept up six titles, winning in each of the finals of the mixed gender, women’s, and men’s divisions before a capacity crowd of nearly 10,000 at the Allianz Park stadium in London.
Johan Driessen & Marget Neher, GER
Margret Neher and Johan Driessen share their lives and their enthusiasm for Canoe Polo. The two members of the German national teams (women and men) won the European Club Championships with their club squads in Spain this year. Margret Neher celebrated her win with Göttinger PC. Johann achieved the title with Rothe Mühle Essen at the same event. Margret Neher also won a silver medal with the national team at the World Championships. Johan Driessen won The World Games title in Cali 2013 as a member of the German team. He is now on his way to defending gold for Germany. It’s not sure whether Margret Neher, his partner, will be able to compete for her country. In March she will give birth to their baby. Guess which sport the child will learn?
Freddy Krueger, USA
Waterskiing legend and five-time World Jump Champion Freddy “The Nightmare” Krueger has dominated his sport for the best part of 16 years. Now, at 40 years of age, he is nearing the end of a spectacular career. In the extreme sport of Waterski Jumping, athletes score purely on distance achieved over the floating Ramp by taking off at over 120kph. Behind the 570hp ProStar MasterCraft boat, he scored a staggering distance of 95m, the length of a football pitch! With past titles of World Champion and World Cup Champion already to his credit, he has also achieved no less than eight IWWF World Jump Records. Freddy Krueger recently decided to attempt yet another new World Record which would enter the Guinness Book of Records if successful.
Mike Schloesser, NED
In the world of Archery, Mike Schloesser from the Netherlands is known as “Mr Perfect”. For good reason: The 22-year-old athlete remains the only person to have shot a perfect 60-arrow ranking round over 18 metres. He shot 600 – out of a possible 600 points – at the Nimes stage of the Indoor Archery World Cup in 2015. He came close again this year in Marrakesh. He achieved a 599 total and becoming the top seed in the compound men’s competition at the first stage of the 2016/17 Indoor Archery World Cup. He broke the record for the qualification round at the start of the year (717 of 720) too. Mike Schloesser is currently ranked world number one. His achievements in 2016 include a silver medal at the World Archery Indoor Championships, and first place at the Hyundai Archery World Cup Final in Odense, Denmark.
Mirnesa & Mirneta Becirovic, AUT
The IWGA Athletes of the Month for November 2016, Mirnesa and Mirneta Becirovic won the gold medal at the Ju-Jitsu World Championships in Wroclaw (Pol), host city of The World Games 2017. It was their third consecutive world title. These identical twins from Austria (24) perform in the Duo-Women discipline. Winning the title at the event in Poland this November ensured that they will be able to defend their World Games title from 2013 Cali/Colombia. At the end of the event in Poland, they were honored as the outstanding team of this year’s World Championships.
Francesca Lollobrigida, ITA
Francesca Lollobrigida won three gold medals and two silver medals at the World Championships in Nanjing (China) last month. The 25-year-old speed roller-skater from Italy succeeded on the track over 1,000 meters and 3,000 meters (relay). The in-line skater also grabbed gold on the road, winning the 10,000 meters event. Francesca Lollobrigida gained silver medals over 20,000 m (Road) und 5,000 m (Road Relay) at the event held by the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS). She was selected as IWGA Athlete of the Month for September 2016. Francesca Lollobrigida is not only well known for her outstanding performances as a in-line speed athlete. She also performs in ice skating as a member of the Fabulous Fab Team from the Netherlands.
Women’s squad, CHN
The new World Indoor Champions made a powerful statement as the gold medalists in the 540 kg women's event at the 2016 World Championships in the Netherlands. At the tournament the Women’s squad from China in Tug of War ended second in the round robin phase of the competition having lost to the Chinese Taipei ladies after the longest pull (3:20 min.) of the weight class. The IWGA Team of the Month for February 2016 however got stronger and stronger as the competition progressed and managed to qualify for the final without many problems thereafter. China is the initial favourite to win the gold medal at TWG 2017. The 540 kg event is the only women’s competition in Tug of War on the program of next year’s event.
Men’s Group Acrobatic Gymnastics, CHN
Zheng Li, Luoming Rui, Zhang Teng and Zhou Jiahuai won the gold medal at the Acrobatic Gymnastics World Championships in their homeland China. At the event in Putian, the IWGA Team of the Month for April 2016 continued the winning streak started by their predecessors in 2014. The new four-man Group lived up to tradition by finishing 1.6 points ahead of silver medalist Israel, which was the largest margin of victory in any category. They were also the only team who were able to beat the Russians, who won all of the other six titles in Putian. Achieving the title, the men’s group qualified China for a place to compete at TWG 2017.
Byambajav Ulambaryar, MGL
This 32-year-old sumo-wrestler’s success is not limited to competing in the dojo. He is also well known as an actor in Hollywood. This year the Mongolian athlete, who won a gold medal at The World Games 2009, was a Bronze medalist at the World Championships (Heavyweight) and ranked second with his team at the event in his former hometown of Ulan-Bator. Byambajav Ulambayar, also known as Bayamba, was to be seen in the movie “Burn Your Maps”. He played the role of a Mongolian festival player. Besides playing a sumo wrestler in “Ocean’s 13” he has made appearances on TV shows such as “The Bachelorette” and “America’s Got Talent.” He was the star in several General Motors commercials too. He now lives in Los Angeles.
Giana Lotfy, EGY
Few athletes in today's Karate can display such dominance in the sport as Giana Lotfy. The Egyptian Karate star has not lost a bout in two years and presents an impressive streak of victories. Demonstrating an unparalleled superiority in the category, Giana Lotfy is a two-time World Champion in Female Kumite (-61kg category). This year, she dominated the competition in the World Championships held in Linz (Austria). The fans’ favorite karateka has also won three Gold medals this year in the first-class Karate international event, the Karate 1-Premier League. In 2017 she will represent her country at TWG 2017, following the tradition of successful karateka from Egypt at the past World Games.
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