The World Games Athlete of the Year 2022 first runner-up
It was a nail-biter you won't forget. Monika Chochlikova (27) from Slovakia and Valeria Cardenas, member of the Colombian Flying Disc team, went neck and neck for the title of IWGA Athlete of the Year 2022. Chochlikova, the Muaythai fighter and gold medal winner at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA, was beaten in the final metres. In this interview the athlete, who also competed in Kickboxing in Birmingham, tells how she felt representing Muaythai in the voting, and how strongly her fans supported her. She wrote her answers with only one hand: the martial arts fighter has just undergone shoulder surgery.
What does the voting and being the runner-up mean to you?
Monika Chochlikova: Well, it has been a great honour for me to be nominated by our federation to represent our beautiful sport in front of the whole world.
How did you experience the last thrilling hours?
Monika Chochlikova: I must say first that I had shoulder surgery just two days beforehand. Fortunately I’m recovering quickly, although due to anaesthesia I still feel a little bit sick. Although I was under the weather yesterday, I was refreshing the voting site every minute, especially in the last hour, and all my fans were doing the same. It was so close!
How did your family, friends and sports colleagues react?
Monika Chochlikova: Literally EVERYONE has been voting since Day One. When I got into the Top 10 the amount of support was enormous. Everyone really cared about it. It wasn´t only voting for Monika, it was voting for our small yet beautiful country Slovakia, and my fans took it really seriously.
How did you get your fans behind you?
Monika Chochlikova: First I was doing some posts about the voting, and how it goes on, and when I got into the Top 10 I started publishing reels of interesting facts about me with references how, when and where to vote. And then it was a free ride for my fans - they shared it on Facebook groups they are a part of, and we got more and more people to vote. These people actively shared the posts on their social media accounts. Many well-known sportspeople and celebrities voted for me and shared it with their audiences. Even though we are a small country with only five million inhabitants, the mobilisation was enormous. I would like to thank everyone who gave me votes.
What are your memories of The World Games 2022?
Monika Chochlikova: It was very hard and very emotional. I competed in 2 sports – Kickboxing and Muaythai – and there was a lot of pressure on me. Especially when I lost in the quarter-finals in Kickboxing. But then I somehow managed to win 3 fights in Muaythai, and suddenly the pressure was gone and I was just enjoying the moment. I remember I cried the whole time during the medal ceremony!
Is there a moment in Birmingham that was particularly memorable for you?
Monika Chochlikova: After the 3rd round in the final, when I realised that I had made it and become The World Games champion.
You competed in two sports. How come?
Monika Chochlikova: In 2021 I first qualified in Kickboxing, and then 2 months later I qualified in Muaythai as well. At first I just wanted to compete in one sport, but then I thought it would be a pity not to try in both. Even though the sports were right after each other with no day free. So I took the chance.
For us laymen, what is the difference between Muaythai and Kickboxing?
Monika Chochlikova: Basically, all techniques which are allowed in the K1 discipline of Kickboxing are allowed also in Muaythai. Plus, in Muaythai you can catch kicks and clinch. The scoring is also different. In Kickboxing you get points when you throw some good technique and it somehow damages the opponent. So the fight could end 3:2 or 15:10. In Muaythai, there is a 10-10 scoring system, which means that every fighter starts every round with 10 points. If they lose that round, they get 9 points; if they win it, they get 10. So the fight ends 30:27 or 29:28 etc. The last big difference is the length of rounds. In Kickboxing it´s 3 x 2 minutes and in Muaythai 3 x 3 minutes. Overall, Kickboxing has I think 7 disciplines. One of them is K1, which was in The World Games. Muaythai has only one discipline.
What are your goals for this year?
Monika Chochlikova: I have to get my shoulder fixed first, and after that I would like to go to the World Championships in Muaythai in May. I plan to compete in the European Games in June, and the World Combat Games in October too.
And for the years ahead?
Monika Chochlikova: I would like to get to the next edition of The World Games, and if Muaythai or K1 will be in the Olympic Games, I would love to go there as well.
Have you looked up where Chengdu, host city of TWG 2025, is on the map?
Monika Chochlikova: I know it´s in China, but I haven’t been looking at details yet!
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 World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.