Nicol David is crowned The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time! In an online vote on The World Games website, the Malaysian Squash superstar and former United Nations Development Programme Ambassador for Malaysia amassed the huge total of 318,943 votes, and at the end of the poll is now confirmed as the outright winner. All in all, 1 204,637 votes have been cast during the poll.
“I would like to warmly congratulate Nicol David, and also all the other candidates in the race. Nicol David is an inspirational athlete, and a fine role model for younger athletes. The race was incredible, and it was good to see how athletes got support not only from their own sport, but also from their country and the highest sports authorities there. Sports really unite people in a special way. This vote was a celebration of that,” said IWGA President José Perurena.
“It’s a huge honour to be nominated by The World Games for the Greatest Athlete of All Time and to gain so much support from everyone in Malaysia and the Squash community.
“It came as a surprise to see me amongst these other top athletes and I’m grateful for this ... hopefully it can elevate attention for the future of Squash, and it’s a proud moment to represent my country and Asia”, David (MAS) says.
President Zena Wooldridge of the World Squash Federation says: ”Nicol has beaten a number of distinguished athletes to first place and her victory is recognition of a wonderful career that saw her break numerous records and win everything there was to win in the sport.
"Not only is Nicol one of the greatest athletes of all time, she is also a tremendous role model for thousands of people across the globe and a true ambassador for our sport. I'm also delighted to see the support Nicol enjoyed from our passionate and loyal Squash community, and we are all proud to see Nicol named as The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time.”
In second place in the highest-voted race of all time was Tug of War legend James Kehoe (IRL). Kehoe, who has participated in 9 editions of The World Games and has 9 medals from The World Games, got 113,120 votes, and the federation is very proud of him: “Within the Tug of War sport, we are used to the longevity and multi-generational participation of our top performers over extended periods. James Kehoe have taken this to the next level, and we are extremely proud that he so ably represented our sport in this prestigious competition and ends up being part of the top 3. Yet another example of age only being a number – if you’re good enough, a prolonged career at the highest level and top-performance is possible. Equally so, I am humbled and extremely proud by the manner in which the global Tug of War fraternity has stepped up to the plate and supported James by voting consistently during this competition. A true reflection of the spirit and ethos of our global TWIF family and encapsulated in the person of James Kehoe – a wonderful ambassador for our sport at the highest level and honoured by his peers,” President of Tug of War International Federation, Anton Rabe says.
James Kehoe says: “It’s been a very different but exciting few weeks. I am a shy person by nature and prefer to be out of the spotlight, but as the competition progresses, much to my surprise I am enjoying it more. I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of support I am receiving. It is an honour for me and my club to have been chosen as a competitor in this competition.”
In third place finished Larysa Soloviova, Powerlifting legend who has won gold in all editions she has taken part between 2005 and 2017. Soloviova got 80,790 votes.
IF President Gaston Parage is proud of Soloviova's achievement:
"I am happy and proud that the IPF could finally reach the third place, even more as at the beginning we were struggling on the ninth position but after motivating tireless the powerlifting community we could achieve this goal. I am also happy for Larysa as she really deserved this honour of the reason that she won on 4 World Games Editions on row the Gold Medal, which is an outstanding proof of her consistency over more than a decade. I want to congratulate the winner of this voting and also the first runner up, but of course I want to congratulate Larysa who is our champion and a real ambassador for the sport."
Larysa Soloviova says:
"During these weeks, we had a great challenge. People all over the world had to choose between many GREAT sportsmen. Each of these sportsmen deserve to be written down in the history of The World Games.
I want to express my gratitude to all the powerlifters and friends of our sport from all the part of the World for their dedication and support! Thank you for constant everyday voting for me and for Powerlifting in general.
Thanks to the Ukrainian National Powerlifting Federation, Regional Powerlifitng Federations and International Powerlifting Federation for the media support and encouragement! I am very happy that we reached our goal together.
My Friends, you proved to the World that Powerlifting is a big and strong sport Family, which unites many thousands of faithful hearts beating in one rhythm – rhythm of Sport.
I strongly believe that our achievement will make a huge push in the promotion of powerlifting."
Fourth finisher, very close to the third, is lifesaver Marcel Hassemeier (GER), who was the most successful athlete of The World Games 2013.
“It is a great honour and pleasure for me to stand alongside such great and successful athletes for the election of the greatest athlete of all time. I congratulate the winners as well as the other nominees on this success and I thank everyone who supported me in this voting with all my heart. I am very happy and proud that my successes will not be forgotten.”, he says.
President Graham Ford: “The IWGA should be applauded for the success of this race to establish The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time over the last 40 years, and the number of votes cast in total shows just how popular this has been among the athletes of all The World Games Sports. We are obviously delighted to see that Lifesaving sport is so highly thought of by others, and very pleased to see our lifesaver, Marcel Hassemeier, in the top 4. He has been an excellent competitor for the German National Team, and followed his great success in the Cali World Games in 2013 with a stand-out performance at the 2014 Lifesaving World Championships in Montpellier, where he won 4 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze medals to prove how great a competitor he has been for Lifesaving sport.”
The International World Games Association (initially called the World Games Council) was founded on 21st May 1980, and the first edition of The World Games was held in the period 24 July – 4 August 1981 in Santa Clara, California.
“Normally we have a vote for the Athlete of the Year in January. This year, to celebrate the 40 years’ anniversary of The World Games, we wanted to do something special. When we decided to look for The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time, we did not realise we would find 24 such legendary athletes, and it has been a true pleasure for us to follow the vote as well. Nicol David truly deserves her victory! All the 24 candidates will be promoted throughout this year, as they are all legends in their own sport,” said IWGA Head of Communications Anna Jacobson.
All results can be found here.
You will learn more about the winners and the runners-up in the upcoming days. They will get an Athlete of the Year trophy and a branded gift from the Official Sponsor, Protective Life.
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The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage 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 over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.