The World Games Athlete of the Year 2021 candidates
The first title in the The World Games 2022 year will be awarded on 31st January: on that date it will be decided who will be The World Games Athlete of the Year. Online voting begins on 10th January. Starting today, sports fans can learn more about the 24 candidates. The shortlist for Athlete of the Year 2021 is now online.
The introductions on the voting website showcase the achievements of the contenders for the title, and short videos show the top athletes in action. The candidates come from 17 nations and four continents. The winners will receive trophies and prizes from the official sponsor of The World Games Athlete of the Year, Protective Life. For the eighth time since 2014, the International World Games Association will crown the top athlete or team of the past sports year.
For more than a few of the candidates, the Athlete of the Year selection is just the beginning of their title hunt this year. They will also be competing at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA and taking up the fight for gold. Kickboxing World Champion Melissa Martinez Aceves of Mexico has already booked her spot to compete in the Alabama Games.
Paola Longoria, also of Mexico, is looking to defend her The World Games Champion title in July 2022. Waterski athlete Anna Gay can certainly count on support from the host city of The World Games 2022; the American is studying at the University of Alabama. Many of the top performers in the team sports will have to wait for countries to nominate their teams before they get official confirmation of their participation in the Games.
Anna Jacobson, IWGA Head of Communications, knows the key to running for the first title of 2022: “Getting the fans of your own sport and the fans in your own country behind you is crucial to success.” For the Athlete of the Year race, voting numbers can be huge: in 2019, Indian Field Hockey player Rani Rampal prevailed with a whopping 705,610 votes. Gymnasts Marina Chernova & Georgii Pataraia from Russia secured the title with 159,348 votes in 2018.
But before the title is actually up for grabs, there is a first hurdle to jump: only the ten best, as measured on the 23rd January, will move on to the final. After that the final round of voting begins, and continues until 31st January.
And so to the rules: each participant can cast votes for the candidates once per 24 hours on The World Games website. Each time, votes must be given to two candidates: two votes to your first-choice candidate and one vote to your second-choice candidate. “The first candidate they choose gets two votes, and the second candidate one vote. We started with this initiative two years ago, in order to get The World Games family to know each other better; after choosing your favourite, you will choose a candidate from another sport too. This way you will get to see who else is there and with what kind of background story,” Anna Jacobson explains, and continues:
“The initiative has worked well, and is one more way in which we want to make athletes and fans feel that we are one big family – We Are The World Games.”
The winners in past years:
2020 The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time: Nicole David (MAS), Squash
2019: Rani Rampal (IND), Hockey
2018: Marina Chernova & Georgii Pataraia (RUS), Gymnastics
2017: Reza Alipourzenashandifar (IRI), Sport Climbing
2016: Sofia Olofsson (SWE), Muaythai
2015: Mwai Kumwenda (MAW), Netball
2014: Adam Ondra (CZE), Sport Climbing
2013: Marcel Hassemeier (GER), Livesaving
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.