After a race like never before, Sport Climber Reza Alipourzenashandifar is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2017!
The speed climber from Iran took the victory with 90,790 votes – just ahead of four-times The World Games champion in Powerlifting, Larysa Soloviova (UKR) with 90,036 votes. Rollersports star Fabriana Arias (COL) finished third with 48,014 votes.
“We have witnessed a vote like never before,” says IWGA President José Perurena, and continues: “It has been amazing to follow how sports fans all over the world have continued to support their candidates from Day 1 all the way to the very final day. It warms my heart to see fans from so many different sports activated and voting for their candidate. Whether one of the top three or somewhere below, the fans have shown their support and love for their sport. We’ve seen significantly increased interest in The World Games in general, and this voting confirms that as well. I congratulate Reza Alipourshenazandifar as well as all the other candidates on a tough and fair race. I hope to see you all in Birmingham in 2021!”
The World Games Athlete of the Year, Reza Alipourshenazandifar, became the first-ever Iranian champion at The World Games when he successfully climbed the wall faster than any of his opponents last summer in Wroclaw. After his 15 metres and 5.57 seconds race he said: “This medal makes a dream come true, a dream which I have had for so many years.” He is also the World Record holder in Speed Climbing.
President of the International Federation for Sport Climbing, Marco Scolaris, was very happy for the victory: "Wow, already two Athlete of the Year awards for Sport Climbing! No other sport has got that yet. Congratulations to Reza for this success as well as for his achievements in 2017. He is the fastest Speed climber and the first Iranian athlete to win gold at The World Games. Keep climbing!”
Larysa Soloviova has won gold in Powerlifting in the last 4 editions of The World Games (2005, 2009, 2013 and 2017), which means she has been competing now for more than 12 years at the highest level. In this time she has also won the International Powerlifting Federation World Championships 2011–2017 in her weight category! She is one of the most successful powerlifters of all times.
Gaston Parage, President of the International Powerlifting Federation is proud of Soloviova's success:
“I am very pleased that there was this fantastic battle between the three great athletes. I congratulate Reza Alipourshenazandifar on his victory! I am sorry we lost at the final line, but I am very proud of Larysa and her achievement. The IPF put in a lot of effort to get their members voting in favour for Larysa but also for our sport Powerlifting. It has been a big success for us to motivate our lifters and officials and the fans of strength sports to vote for Larysa. I congratulate Larysa on being runner-up in the IWGA Athlete of the Year vote, after she won The World Games 2017 for the fourth time. She is a great example for our sport and for the IWGA. Many thanks to the IWGA for having this fantastic initiative to vote for the Athlete of the Year.”
Rollersports star in Speed Skating, Fabriana Arias from Colombia, was leading the race from time to time but lost her place in the final three days, finishing third. Sabatino Aracu, President of World Skate, says: “The IWGA Athlete of the Year vote has indeed been a fun ride and very interesting to watch. The three final contestants have gone head to head up until the last moment and our Fabriana Arias has sadly ended up just below the other two. As with all competitions – and the IWGA Athlete of the Year is still a competition! – you always go for the victory, but I have to underline how the vote difference between Fabriana and the winner was marginal: this really demonstrates the popularity of Speed Skating worldwide.”
All in all, a record number of votes – 260,266 – were cast at the 2017 Athlete of the Year vote. The winner will receive a trophy and an engraved Tissot watch.