Following the acclamation of Speed Climber Reza Alipourshenazandifar as The World Games Athlete of the Year, the good news just keeps coming for Sport Climbing. The International Federation of Sport Climbing has just signed a ground-breaking agreement with Japan Airlines. The airline will be the main partner for IFSC and will provide educational experiences for children through its Fostering the Next Generation programme. The Japanese flag carrier will also encourage passengers to make charitable donations of their mileage points to help underfunded sports projects. The partnership will build upon the popularity of the sport in Japan, which is only set to grow with the sport making its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. At The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, the Japanese team was the most successful across all the disciplines of Sport Climbing, its athletes claiming four medals.
Reza Alipourshenazandifar was the first Iranian ever to win a gold medal at The World Games. Some of his countrymen have learned from his example, and also won maiden medals at a global event. The Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin saw Iran become the first team from Asia to feature on an event podium when they surprisingly claimed the bronze medal. Iran's players had previously featured in the third-place game in 2015, but lost heavily to Germany. However, this time round there was no mistake, trouncing sport heavyweights Australia 5-0 to ensure that the Iranian flag was raised at a FIH global event for the very first time! Their beaten opponents have an illustrious history in the outdoor 11-a-side version of the game: the Australian men have claimed nine medals at the Olympics and are the current World Champions.
The stork has been kept very busy in the last few weeks by the good folks involved in Lacrosse. The Federation of International Lacrosse has been delighted to announce the birth of two new continental federations, one World Cup organiser and one emoji! Following the developing growth of the sport, with Chile recently becoming the 60th member nation, the FIL has created a couple of federations, one to cover Africa and the other Caribbean, Central and South America. They also announced that the next Women’s World Cup will take place at Towson University in Maryland.
Lacrosse fans in America will have a great time in the summer of 2021, having two opportunities to see exciting international action, as The World Games in Birmingham, Alabama take place a fortnight after the Women’s World Cup*. Last time the two events took place in the same year, in 2017, USA arrived in Wroclaw as the World Champions and doubled their gold medal haul after a pulsating final at The World Games. The Americans and Canadians traded the lead and the outcome was only assured in the last few minutes. Will USA repeat its success, or will new champions emerge in Alabama? Fans of the sport have been calling for years for an emoji to represent the fast-paced game, often using the hashtag #NoLaxEmoji. Finally their pleas have been answered. A beta version of a lacrosse emoji (see image below) is set to appear on phones later in the year.
* Provided that Lacrosse will be in the sports programme of The World Games 2021, which will be decided on in April 2018.
Brian Salmon for The World Games