After an incredibly tight race, Reza Alipourshenazandifar was voted Athlete of the Year 2017 yesterday. The Athlete of the Year award is distributed annually by the International World Games Association (IWGA), who selects a candidate from participating IWGA sports and after fans vote daily for their favourite candidate over one month.
This year, three athletes stood out at the halfway mark, when the field was reduced from 21 to 9 athletes: speed skater Fabriana Arias (COL), powerlifter Larysa Soloviova (UKR) and speed climber Reza Alipourshenazandifar (IRI). Reza and Larysa pulled ahead at the end of January, regularly swapping first place. After thousands of votes on the final day and strong support from sport climbing and powerlifting fans alike, Reza regained the lead in the last hour to win the title by 754 votes, receiving 90,790 votes in total. Altogether, a record 260,266 votes were cast.
At IFSC World Cup Nanjing last year, Reza set a new men’s speed world record at 5.48 seconds. Weeks later, he won the first gold medal for Iran at The World Games in Wroclaw. Support for the speed climbing star came from around the world, including from fellow Iranians, Australia and the Philippines.
Reza is the second sport climbing athlete to win the Athlete of the Year award. Adam Ondra (CZE) claimed the prize in 2014 after becoming the Bouldering and Lead world champion.
“Wow, already two Athlete of the Year awards for sport climbing, the most of any sport,” said IFSC President Marco Scolaris. “Congratulations to Reza for this success as well as for his achievements in 2017. He is the fastest Speed climber and the first Iranian athlete to win gold at The World Games. Keep climbing!”
More information can be found in the IWGA announcement here.