Athlete of the year 2019 vote banner

How to vote

You can vote for your candidate once every 24 hours.

First, give two votes to your favourite candidate by clicking on their "Vote" button.

Then, to make your vote count, click on the "Vote" button of your second favourite candidate which will then receive one vote.

Voting rules

The names of the candidates for the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 will be published on 7th January 2020.

Voting begins at 09:00 CET on 8th January 2020.

From Monday 20th January 2020 at 16:00 CET, only the 10 highest ranked candidates at that time will continue in the race. They will keep the votes earned by then.

Voting ends on Thursday, 30 January 2020 at 15 CET.

The winner and runners-up will be announced on 30th January 2020.

You can give your votes to the candidates on The World Games website once per 24 hours. Votes must be given each time to two candidates: 2 votes to your first-choice candidate and 1 vote to your second-choice candidate. If you try to give votes to one candidate only, the votes will not be registered.

The numbers of votes cast for each candidate will be visible throughout the campaign.

All voters shall act in accordance with fair play in sport. The IWGA will scrutinise the voting process closely, and any anomalies that appear will be investigated. Any conduct that is against the sporting spirit may result in consequences.




Christian Tissier, FRA

Christian Tissier (FRA) is one of the best-known European Aikido teachers, who pioneered the art in France. He received his 8th dan in 2016, and he is among the handful of westerners who have been given the title Shihan by the Aikikai. Tissier is a founding member of the Fédération Française d'Aïkido Aïkibudo et Affinitaires which was created in 1983. He serves the International Aikido Federation as an instructor during congresses, and as a technical coordinator and demonstrator during major events such as the World Combat Games.


Air Sports

Wanraya Wannapong, THA

Female FAI World Drone Racing Champion 2019 - and 2018 - Wanraya Wannapong (THA), who goes by the name ‘Milk’ when she is racing, is at 12 years old one of the youngest and most successful competitive drone racers in the world. The Thai schoolgirl, who lives in Bangkok with her parents, took up drone racing at just eight years of age. Stoic under pressure, she successfully defended her 2018 title at the FAI World Drone Racing Championship Grand Final 2019, held in Xiangshan Ningbo, China in December. Her other victories include the 2018 China Drone Racing Open, held in Shenzhen, China in May 2018, where she was the overall winner. Wannapong’s overall goal is to become the overall FAI World Drone Racing Champion, a dream supported by her father, who practices with her in the family’s training field in Thailand. And she certainly has the motivation to get there! “I fly every day, and all day when I am not at school,” Wannapong added.



Sara Lopez, COL

Sara Lopez In 2019 Sara Lopez won the first-ever compound women’s title at the Pan American Games. In addition, she won a record fifth Hyundai Archery World Cup Champion title. Lopez was champion of the international circuit also in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. She is the first archer ever to claim five titles. “I’m really happy. I’m happy because even though I didn’t have the best year of my life, I made history with the World Cup and the Pan American Games. Those were my main goals this year. And I’m really happy and proud,” she said. The Pan American Games were the third continental Games – after Asia and Europe – to include a compound competition. Recurve Archery has featured on the programme of the continental multisport event since 1979. Compound was added for the first time in 2019. “It’s the first one in history and it’s mine. It’s what I’ve been working for all year. I started to visualise it since I knew compound was going to be at the Pan Americans,” said Sara. “I was like, that’s mine, and I fought for it. It wasn’t a good year for me but this compensates for everything.”


Baseball - Softball

Stacey Porter, AUS

Stacey Porter (AUS) is a Softball first/third baseman. She played university Softball for the University of Hawaii from 2001 to 2003, where she set several records and was named in the All-American team. Porter has played in the national team since 2002, and in 2019 she became the most-capped international player of all time, playing for her country for the 430th time, passing former team-mate Natalie Ward’s record of 429 games. She currently plays professional Softball in Japan. Porter has silver and bronze medals from the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008.



Team Brazil, BRA

Men’s Beach Handball team The most titled team in Beach Handball history continued their dominance in 2019, from start to finish. The Brazil men’s Beach Handball team began the year going undefeated to win the 2019 South and Central America Beach Handball Championship. In October they claimed another championship, winning the men’s Beach Handball competition at the ANOC World Beach Games in Qatar. They defeated some of the world’s best teams along the way including Croatia, Spain and Qatar to claim the gold medal. “This moment was spectacular. We felt we had to win this competition as it was the first one and it was historic,” said Brazil specialist Bruno Carlos de Oliveira, who scored the winning point in the shoot-out to secure the gold. “We want to win and make history, as nobody can beat you if you are first, even if you win it the second time. We are always looking to make history.”



Maria Rodriguez, COL

Maria Rodriguez (COL) won two gold medals at this year’s World Bowling Championships in Las Vegas. She was part of the Colombian Team of Five who won gold, and she won the gold for the category “All-Events” with 5488 for 24 games. She rolled 1368 in the Singles, 1377 in Doubles, 1389 in Trios, and 1354 in the Team event for a 228.6 average. Rodriguez has been a member of the Colombian national team since 2009, and professionally she won the 2018 PWBA Tour Championship. In 2009, she rolled a perfect game in Doubles at the World Bowling Women’s Championships - it was only the fourth time this has been done in the history of the event!



Mads Pedersen, DEN

Mads Pedersen (DEN) made Canoe Marathon history this year when he became the first ever athlete to win both an U-23 and an open world title at the same event. This was an incredible performance, especially considering that the races were held within 24 hours of each other. Earlier this year Pedersen won both the U-23 and senior European Canoe Marathon titles in the space of 24 hours, but few thought it possible that he could do it against the best in the world. Pedersen has been on the Canoe Marathon scene for several years, but had never fulfilled the potential many experts believed he had. But 2019 has been his break-out year, culminating with his part of Canoe Marathon history in Shaoxing. Canoe Marathon will see its première at The World Games in 2021 in Birmingham!



Armen Tsaturyan & Svetlana Gudyno, RUS

Armen Tsaturyan & Svetlana Gudyno Armen Tsaturyan and Svetlana Gudyno are the two-times World Latin Champions, four times European Latin Champions and 15 times WDSF GrandSlam winners. At The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw they ranked second. Their outstanding record of straight number one positions has been going on since the beginning of 2018. These two incredible athletes always find something to improve. This keeps them climbing to new heights in their unbelievably successful career, which started for them as a team back in 2010.


Underwater Sports

Pavel Kabanov, RUS

Pavel Kabanov Pavel Kabanov is four-time The World Games champion in Finswimming, having won his first gold already in 2005 and the latest two in Wroclaw in 2017. In 2019 the 34-year-old athlete from Novosibirsk won gold at the European Championships. All in all, Kabanov has 29 world records and 5 The World Games records! His wife is also a finswimmer, and in his free time, besides spending time with their two sons, he enjoys motor-sports and Mixed Martial Arts.



Mateus Kuntzler, BRA

Mateus Kuntzler (BRA) started with Fistball when he was 10 years old. Sport has always been very important in his life, but him becoming a world-class Fistball player was a surprise to a lot of people, because he was born with a malformation on his left arm, which is not fully developed: he has practically no left forearm. Kuntzler always wanted to prove to himself that he could become a very good player in ‘normal’ sport rather than para-sport. Winning the bronze medal with Team Brazil at the Fistball World Championship in 2019 was the greatest proof of this aim in his life so far. He continued to show outstanding performance throughout the year 2019, being voted as the Most Valuable Player of the Fistball World Tour Finals, where he was runner-up with his club team Novo Hamburgo. In the Fistball world Mateus Kuntzler is one of the absolute best in the world, and he inspires fans and young players with his emotional and dynamic style of play. In his main position as a setter, he impresses with an enormous range of motion and a high level of game intelligence. Even as an attacker, the 23-year-old has strong qualities with sneaky strikes.



U19 Team Czech Republic, CZE

Men’s Under-19 Team, Czech Republic The Czech Under-19 men’s Floorball team made history in Canada in May 2019 by winning the first-ever World Floorball Championships gold medal in the history of Czech Floorball. The Czech Republic played an incredible final against the reigning champion Sweden, beating them by six goals and making them this year’s Gold Medal Champions. The battle for gold was a strong one. Shots were taken in the first period, but nothing came of them. In the second period, however, the Czechs came with a new hunger and obliterated the competition. This was the first time any team other than Finland and Sweden have won gold in any Men’s World Floorball Championships. History was made in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 2019 and a new milestone achieved for Floorball!


Flying Disc

Team Finland, FIN

Finland The eight-person mixed squad from Finland defeated Germany to win the WFDF 2019 World Team Disc Golf Championships, which were held in Alutaguse, Estonia from 21 to 24 August 2019. Taking the gold medal had been the ambition for the Finnish team from the beginning of the event - they sent a very strong team and did not lose a match throughout the Championships. After this dominating performance, Finland has earned the year-end position as the top-ranked Disc Golf country in the world, knocking the USA out of the top spot.



Davide Donati & Michela Castoldi, ITA

Davide Donati and Michela Castoldi, Italy’s all-conquering mixed pair, represent all that is great about the burgeoning sport of Aerobic Gymnastics. Lifelong friends, the duo have claimed a wealth of major titles during their 11-plus years at the top but, more than that, they have entranced audiences around the globe with their passion and commitment, winning legions of die-hard fans. In 2019 Donati and Castoldi, nicknamed Italy’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, added a hard-won European Games title to a sparkling collection of silverware which includes two World Championship titles and two World Cup crowns. For the duo themselves, Aerobic Gymnastics is all they have ever wanted to do, and being the best at it fills them with joy. “We are doing our favourite thing with our favourite people and it’s the most beautiful thing that we have,” Castoldi said recently.



Rani, IND

Rani Born in 1994, Rani made her senior international debut in 2009 when she was only 14 years old, making her the youngest-ever player in the Indian Women's Hockey team. Since then she has represented India on more than 240 occasions, scoring a remarkable 118 goals. In 2019 Rani successfully led the Indian Women’s Hockey team to Olympic qualification, beating Team USA 6-5 on aggregate over the 2-game Olympic Qualifier, staged in front of 12,000 fans in Bhubaneswar, India. She scored the winning goal with just 12 minutes remaining in the final quarter of the second match, sending the home crowd wild with celebrations. During 2019, Rani’s team won the FIH Series Finals in Hiroshima where she was named Player of the Tournament, and they have now qualified for just the 3rd Olympic Games in their history, having finished 12th and last in Rio in 2016. As an inspirational leader on and off the field, Rani is a role model in India and hopes to lead the team to success in next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.



Stanislav Horuna, UKR

After 12 years of successful career at the highest level, Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine has become one of the most admired karatekas in the world. Respected by rivals and revered by fans, Horuna is very likely the most followed competitor by younger generations of fans; the sight of the Ukrainian athlete surrounded by hundreds of enthusiasts has turned out to be a classic feature at major events. His friendly personality, his unique hairdo and his spectacular style of fighting are among the reasons for his widespread fan base. The four-time European Championships medallist claimed his biggest accomplishment at The World Games 2017 when Horuna won the gold medal in spectacular fashion. The Ukrainian hero defeated Iran’s Aliasghar Asiabari 4-2 in one of the highlights of the tournament. This year he won the gold medal at one of Karate’s biggest events, the 2019 European Games. In addition to his success on the tatami, Horuna works as an attorney in his home town of Lviv. A Master of Law by the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, Horuna has snowboarding, skydiving and football as major hobbies.



Vladislav Tuinov, RUS

Vladislav Tuinov (21) was born in the Russian city of Orel. As a child, he says he was "somewhat introverted" and so his entry into Kickboxing and his subsequent success came as a surprise to many people who knew him. He got involved with Kickboxing by accident. Vlad was in fact on his way to a public swimming pool at a local sports centre when he walked through the wrong door and right into a Kickboxing class. When he saw the nature of the training, Vlad decided to start Kickboxing. “I fell in love with Kickboxing. I had a huge desire to be engaged in this sport and to give my best. I decided to dedicate my life to this sport,” says Vladislav. "Since I started Kickboxing, I have had about 270 amateur fights. I was several times junior champion of Russia, and I won the senior title of Russian champion in Kickboxing this year. I won a WAKO World Championship in amateur Kickboxing in Sarajevo this year in K-1 -75kg, and now I perform in professional Kickboxing too." Vladislav Tuinov currently holds 5 pro titles between 71kg and 72.5kg weight classes in Kickboxing. During the World Kickboxing Championships 2019 in Sarajevo he was announced as "The best ring fighter in the World" for his fantastic performances and the respect he was expressing for his opponents.



Madison Copeland, AUS

Madison Copeland (AUS) was selected in the 2019 Women's U19 Lacrosse World Championship All World Team after her 15 goals, 8 Assists, and 18 Draw Controls in the tournament. A leader on and off the field, Copeland has demonstrated a love for the game and commitment to the growth of the sport world-wide. She continues to impact her community by teaching and fostering leadership in various youth programmes in Australia. In 2019 she was awarded Shelley Maher Trophy for the Fairest and Best Female Player in Australia.



Jimmy Vienot, FRA

Jimmy Vienot (FRA) is two-times European Champion (2018 Prague, 2019 Minsk) and this year’s World Champion in the 75 kg Division in Muaythai. He is a true leader of his team and despite his achievements, he always plays a full part in his team’s activities wherever they go. And he is always there for the young athletes, giving them advice and support.



Tove Alexandersson, SWE

Tove Alexandersson The unstoppable Swedish athlete has won almost everything in 2019. At the World Orienteering Championships she won three of three possible gold medals: Long Distance, Middle Distance and Relay. In the Orienteering World Cup she won eight of the nine races, and with an incredible margin she also won the overall World Cup for the sixth year in a row. Tove Alexandersson is not only the best orienteer in the world, she is also world-class in Ski Orienteering. At the World Ski Orienteering Championships 2019 she became world champion in Long Distance and Sprint. She was second in both Middle Distance and Relay.



Paola Longoria, MEX

Racquetball player Paola Longoria (MEX) won three gold medals at the Pan American Games in Peru in August 2019 – in singles, doubles and the team competition. She won each of the three gold medals for the third consecutive time, following her triumphs in Mexico in 2011 and Canada in 2015. The Mexican is also a two-time champion of The World Games, having won in Kaohsiung and Cali (Racquetball was not on the programme in Wroclaw in 2017). She has four individual and four doubles gold medals at the IRF World Championships. In 2010 Paola Longoria was awarded Mexico’s National Sports award, and in 2013 her name was added by Forbes Magazine to the list of the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Mexico. In 2019, she was elected to the Panam Sports Athlete Commission alongside four others.



Rhaea Stinn, CAN

Rhaea Stinn (CAN) has been competing in Powerlifting since 2003, and internationally since 2005. She currently holds world records in both the 72kg and 84kg weight classes in the Equipped Open division. She was the 75kg Sub-Junior World Champion in 2006, 84kg+ Junior World Champion in 2011 and most recently, 84kg Open World Champion in 2019. She also was the 75kg Junior Bench Only World Champion in 2010, and 72kg Open Bench Only World Champion in 2019.


Roller Sports

Katerina Mrazova, CZE

Katerina Mrazova is the captain of the Senior Women Czech Republic Inline Hockey team. Besides being an excellent player in both Inline and Ice Hockey, and a member of one of the strongest Inline Hockey teams in history, Mrazova is a leader and a role model for the whole Inline Hockey women’s movement. With 19 goals scored and 16 assists during the recent World Championships, she gained the award of Most Valuable Player of the tournament.


Sport Climbing

Janja Garnbret, SLO

Janja Garnbret (SLO) has had a fantastic season in 2019, achieving a total of 12 medals in the major events put on by the International Sport Climbing Federation. She also became the first Sport Climbing athlete in history to achieve a clean sweep over an entire season, winning a gold medal in every Bouldering World Cup this year. She then went on to win the Bouldering World Championships. During the IFSC Climbing World Championships 2019 in Hachioji, Japan, Janja Garnbret also qualified in first position for the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.


Tug of War

Team Netherlands, NED

Netherlands The Dutch Tug of War team had a sensational year this year. At the 2019 Tug of War European Championships in Castlebar, Ireland, The Netherlands became champion of the 640 kg, 680 kg and 720 kg classes. This is a unique achievement in the history of Tug of War!


Waterski & Wakeboard

Nic Rapa, AUS

Nic Rapa from Australia is currently the most exciting wakeboarder in the world to watch in action on the water. He won the Open Men's gold medal at the 2019 IWWF World Wakeboard Championships last month in Abu Dhabi, UAE and has just been named the 2019 IWWF Male Wakeboard Athlete of the Year!


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