Friday July 08th
The World Games begins today in Birmingham, Alabama as the athletes start to demonstrate their spectacular skills and set off on their quest for gold and glory for themselves and country. As multiple Olympics champions are set starts with a bang making the sports programme a spectacle to watch and follow. The legends of The World Games in will be in action as it returned to the US. Here is what sports fans and visitor are to expect on opening day:
The History Makers
Larysa Soloviova will have a starring role for the second consecutive night. The Ukrainian powerlifter, who was one of the group of six athletes voted the greatest of all time, is first on flag bearing duties at the Opening Ceremony. Larysa was voted third greatest athlete behind Malaysian squash player Nicol David and Irish Tug of War veteran James Kehoe. Though Nicol David, German canoe polo player Tonie Lenz and Laryssa have all won medals at four consecutive editions of The World Games, Larysa is the only athlete to have won four golds. Any medal would be a historic achievement, as no woman has won medals at five editions. If she wins gold, it would be even more impressive, given the disruption to her training schedule, caused by the Russian invasion of her homeland; which forced her to relocate to Spain.
There are several Olympians also looking to make their own piece of history in Birmingham. In Karate, Antonio Diaz finally fulfilled his ambition of competing at the Olympics, when he was the flag bearer for Venezuela in the Tokyo games. He did well in the Kata discipline, losing in the Bronze medal match. However, he does have a superb collection of medals from
TheWorld Games . He first competed in 2001 in Akita in Japan, where he won bronze. He has since medalled in every edition, picking up two golds and three bronzes along the way. He has postponed retirement and is back for his sixth edition. Will we once again see the popular athlete claim yet another podium place for Venezuela?
Two Spaniards are looking to become dual medallists in both major games for their sport. Sandra Sanchez is the Tokyo Olympic Champion having finished as runner up in the 2017 Wroclaw edition of the World Games . Damian Quintero made both the finals of Wroclaw and Tokyo and will be hoping to mount the top step of the podium for the first time, here in Birmingham.
Most of the media attention is likely to focus on Belgian speed skater Bart Swings. He is equally fast on ice skates or inline skates. He has competed at two editions of the Winter Olympics and two editions of The World Games and medalled every time. On ice, he surprised everyone in PyeongChang 2018 when he won silver. However, the Beijing 2022 Games saw the highlight of his career, when he became the first Belgian to win a gold at The Winter Olympics for 74 years. His record at The World Games is just as impressive. He first competed at the Cali edition in 2013, and took home four medals including two golds. He doubled his golden tally in Wroclaw, and just for good measure added a silver to his already impressive collection. The lightning quick skater will have four opportunities to move into the Top Ten of the most medalled athletes at the World Games
The fans favourites
Some of the best fans at the 2017 Wroclaw edition of The World Games, were those who were cheering on Hungarian finswimmer Petra Senanszky. They were all dressed in t-shirts displaying her photo, and all insisted on a selfie with the speediest swimmer on the planet, when she won two golds in World Record times. It is likely the Hungarian fans will again have plenty to celebrate in Birmingham.
The other multi medallists sure to have the spectators clapping and on their feet are DanceSport’s amazing Moldovan couple Gabrielle Goffredo and Anna Matus, who bring both passion and elegance to the Latin division of the sport. They are going for their third consecutive gold medal. Gabrille also competed in the 2009 edition of The World Games, but it was as an athlete for his native Italy, where he danced with his sister Antonella and picked up a bronze medal.
The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support 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 34 sports and over 100 countries will take part in The World Games.
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