Olofsson tops the polls
Sofia Olofsson (SWE) is the IWGA Athlete of the Year 2016! The 28-year-old Muaythai fighter wins the race by a big margin. She tops the poll convincingly with 15816 votes.
Second in the vote is Speed Sport Climbing World Champion Marcin Dzieński from Poland, the host country for The World Games 2017. Third place goes to Powerlifting World Champion and World Record holder Ray Williams (USA). Best team is the Dancing couple Gabriele Goffredo & Anna Matus (MDA), who were undefeated in 2016.
All in all, 40,203 votes were cast by sports fans all over the world in the Athlete of the Year vote, which this time was divided into a first round and then a final round for the 9 best. Olofsson won 39 % of the votes, making her clear number 1. Ray Williams took the lead at the beginning of the month, but Olofsson was able to activate her fans and pass Williams around the middle of January. After that she was unbeatable, even though the Sport Climbing fans made the race exciting. Olofsson herself reminded her fans to vote daily on Instagram, and they clearly did so.
After the victory, she said: “It feels incredible to get so many votes! I would like to thank all of the Muaythai community and all of my supporters from Sweden and the rest of the world. I also thank IFMA (International Federation of Muaythai Amateur) and WMC for standing behind me in this and promoting me on Facebook and Instagram. It feels great to get acknowledgement for all the hard work that I put in training. I am so happy right now! And I’m looking forward to The World Games in Poland this summer!”
Sofia Olofsson won the gold medal (weight class 54 kg) at the IFMA Muaythai World Championships on her home ground in Sweden. She was also selected as best Female athlete at the World Championships. She had earlier become the first woman to qualify for The World Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland, after winning the gold medal at the IFMA Muaythai Royal World Cup in Bangkok, Thailand in 2015. Olofsson has stated earlier, in an IWGA social media campaign, that she is very much looking forward to The World Games 2017.
Marcin Dzieński secured first place in the International Sport Climbing Federation’s 2016 Speed rankings. It is the first overall win for the 23-year-old, after winning the World Cups in Villars (SUI), Arco (ITA) and Chamonix (FRA). Marcin Dzieński is also the first ever Polish World Champion in Sport Climbing. He won gold at the IFSC World Championship in Paris in September 2016. After the final run, the Olympic Channel posted a video asking: "Did we just see the Usain Bolt of sports climbing?" The speed climber is now aiming for more. On Facebook he stated: "I got it all, but now it is time for something even bigger – The World Games 2017."
Ray Williams won his third consecutive IPF Classic World Powerlifting Championship in June 2016, and set a new squat world record at 438 kg and a new total world record at 1,043 kg. The athlete from the USA, performing in the Super Heavyweight weight class, made waves in the International Powerlifting Federation when he became the first man to squat 410 kg. Ray Williams is a class act on the platform when he competes, and a man of character off the platform as an ambassador for his sport.
IWGA President Mr José Perurena was very satisfied with the voting process and said: “It is great to see our sports fans all over the world supporting their favourites by voting. I am also very pleased by the way the federations and the athletes themselves raised awareness for the Athlete of the Year campaign. We look forward to seeing you all in less than 6 months in Wroclaw!”
The IWGA Athlete of the Year trophy will be presented to Sofia Olofsson in cooperation with the International Federation of Muaythai Amateur.
Previous Athletes of the Year include Marcel Hassemeier (CZE, Life Saving, 2013), Ultimate Flying Disc Team USA (2013), Adam Ondra (CZE, Sport Climbing, 2014) and Mwai Kumwenda (MAW, Netball, 2015).