What a race! Practically at the last minute, Valeria Cardenas secured the title of IWGA Athlete of The Year 2022. In the end, no more than 346 votes decided on victory and second place. Flying Disc achieved great results today, topping the poll twice, and with more than respectable success for both Germany and Colombia. In the voting for the IWGA Athlete and Team of the Year 2022, both awards went to athletes from the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF).

With 35,769 votes on the final round, bronze-medalist with her team at The World Games 2022, Valeria Cardenas (23) from Colombia, secured the individual title. In second place, after a thrilling finish during the final 24 hours, was TWG Champion and Muaythai fighter Monika Chochlikova (27) from Slovakia (35,423 votes). Third place went to the most successful athlete of The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA, Johana Viveros Mondragon (28) from Colombia (14,723 votes on the final round). She won four gold medals and one silver medal in Roller Sports Speed Skating.

In the Team ranking, Flying Disc did not let the opportunity for success slip away either. The squad from Germany, fourth at The World Games 2022, were supreme in this competition just concluded (13,262 votes). Second place went to the German women’s Fistball team, gold medalists at the women’s debut at TWG 2022. Third place was secured by the Tug-of-War pullers from Switzerland, winning gold in the 640 Kilo class at the Games.

IWGA President José Perurena congratulated all winners and runners-up on their success: “To be awarded Athlete or Team of the Year is a great achievement. Those who made it to the podium in the voting not only have victories and medals to show for their efforts. It is just as important to inspire one’s own fans and find recognition for one’s performance. From my point of view, this is certainly also a great satisfaction for all the hard work and training diligence.”

23 athletes and 12 teams running for the titles

At the beginning of January, the IWGA had started the fan voting with 23 candidates for the individual title and 12 applicants for the team award. After the first round, the ten best athletes and the seven best teams went into the finals, starting on 22 January. The winners, together with the runners-up and those placed third, will receive a trophy as well as a certificate. The candidates were nominated by their respective federations. The condition to be in the competition was participation in TWG 2022 last summer in Birmingham, Alabama.

Voting ended at 12 noon GMT on Tuesday 31 January 2023. As far as the teams were concerned, it was clear early on that Germany would be difficult to beat. The race for the individual decision was much more exciting. On Tuesday morning the two leaders were still practically tied. It was only in the final sprint that Colombia’s Valeria Cardenas had the fight for the title decided in her favour.

Valeria Cardenas: “It’s a dream!”

Immediately after the announcement of the result, she said: “This nomination for Athlete of the Year is a dream for me, and for all the Flying Disc community in Colombia and the world. Seeing that all I had worked for over more than 12 years has now paid off is very special, and my wish is to keep on giving my best for the sport and my country. All I have achieved is also due to the support of the people who have been with me since the beginning, and now they are a part of this dream as well. This nomination is just the beginning of many things I want to achieve in my sports career.”

The Colombian helped her team to a bronze medal at the Birmingham Games (13- 11 against Germany). She has also been named Ultiworld’s 2022 Woman of the Year.

Although narrowly beaten, Monika Chochlikova was nevertheless happy about her second place: “First of all it’s for me a big honour that IFMA chose me to represent our sport Muaythai, and secondly I really didn’t expect that so many people would join in the voting, but it wasn’t the only thing that surprised me. These people actively shared the voting on their social media, and many well-known sportsmen and celebrities voted for me and shared it with their audience. Even though Slovakia is a small country with just 5 million inhabitants, the mobilisation was enormous. I would like to thank to everyone who gave me their votes.” The Muaythai Federation IFMA nominated the Slovakian after she won the gold medal at TWG 2022 (-51 Kilo class). What made her stand out was that she competed in Birmingham not only in Muaythai, but also in Kickboxing.

Germany Beat the Unbeatables

The Ultimate Team from Germany remained without a medal at The World Games, but they raised a lot of awareness for themselves. What made them special? At TWG 2022 the German team put up an impressive showing, beating the “unbeatable” team USA in pool play after coming into the competition as the second-to-last seed.

Playing for Germany at The World Games were: Samuel Beutenmüller, Kyoko Binnewies, Schlor Conrad, Steffen Doscher, Anna Gerner, Torben Hornschemeyer, Simona Christiane Lieberth, Nico Müller, Annika Prien, Katharina Schulze, Sebastian Spiegel, Lena Trautmann, Levke Walczak and Marvin Waldvogel.

Robert “Nob” Rauch, President of the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), spoke with great enthusiasm: “On behalf of the global Flying Disc community, I’d like to wholeheartedly congratulate Valeria Cardenas of Colombia and Team Germany on this magnificent achievement, coming out on top in both categories. This is incredible recognition for Valeria as a stand-out athlete all last year, and Team Germany for their collective performance at TWG in Birmingham. We give our sincerest thanks to all fans who voted for them over the last month.”

One last look at the Awards ‘medal tally’: Germany achieved one gold medal and one silver, Columbia achieved one gold and one bronze medal.

Press Release taken from: The World Games Website