Marcel Hassemeier (GER) won 4 gold medals and 1 silver at The World Games 2013, which made him the most successful athlete of that edition of the Games. He was voted The World Games Athlete of the Year in 2013, and that year he also received the Silver Laurel Leaf, the highest sports award in Germany. In the poll for The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time he received close to 80,000 votes, and finished third runner-up among the 24 candidates.
“It's very difficult to find the right words to describe my feelings for this great achievement,” Hassemeier says. “For me it was already a huge honour to be nominated for the voting for The World Games Greatest Athlete of All Time, and it means even more to me that so many people supported me so that I ended as the third runner-up. That shows me that my successes haven't been forgotten yet, and that the level of support from the Lifesaving organisation as well as my family and friends is still so huge.”
Marcel Hassemeier had to quit his career quite soon after his successful Games in 2013. He quit late in the following year for health reasons, but he is still involved in the sport: “I am still involved in Lifesaving as a coach. I love to share my knowledge and skills with the younger athletes. I am part of the coaching team of the German squad, and I really enjoy helping the younger athletes with tips and tricks for lifesaving.”
The World Games has always meant a lot for the lifesaver: “The World Games has been very special to me. First it's very impressive to meet so many different athletes from different sports, and everyone is doing what they love and reaching for the same goal. Furthermore it was very stunning to compete in front of thousands of cheering spectators, because I have never seen so many people at a lifesaving competition like this before. And it was very intangible and unbelievable that I was the most successful athlete in such a huge field of great athletes.”
“Luckily we had the opportunity to stay for a few more days in Cali after our competition, so we could watch other competitions such as for example flying disc and ju-jitsu.”
President Graham Ford of the International Lifesaving Federation is proud of the success of Marcel Hassemeier and says: “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 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.”
Hassemeier values dearly his World Championships medals but says that success at The World Games is different: “For me, success at The World Games has always been my biggest ambition, because it's comparable to the Olympic Games.”
He continues to work for the sport he loves: “The best thing about Lifesaving is the diversity of the disciplines and the associated requirements such as power, endurance, mental strength and technical skills. Being a good lifesaver requires a combination of all these different skills. Furthermore I really like the lifesaving community, because it has a family feeling and all the athletes are very close to each other.”
“I congratulate the winners as well as the other nominees on their success, and I thank everyone who supported me during this voting with all my heart!” Hassemeier concludes.
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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.