By Paul Osborne
January 6 - Germany's Marcel Hassemeier has been named on a 10-strong shortlist for the International World Games Association (IWGA) Athlete of the Year award as the organisation looks to celebrate the "highly successful Games" held in the Colombian city of Cali last year.
He is a leading contender in what is to become the first Athlete of the Year award staged by the IWGA, which today opened the voting to the public via its website.
The decision to stage the competition comes, as described by IWGA President Ron Froehlich, "after the highly successful Games in Cali, showcasing an outstanding performance of our sportsmen and women" which the organisation wants to celebrate with the vote.
Others on the shortlist include French swimmer Magalie Rousseau, who was just a silver medal behind Hassemeier at the Games after picking up four gold and a bronze medal in live saving, leading her to be named as the most successful female of the competition.
She makes the list alongside four other females including American double water skiing gold medallist Regina Jaquess, American archer Erika Jones - who broke the world record in compound archery before sealing two gold medals the following day, Mexican racquetball player Paola Longoria - who continued her two-year unbeaten streak in the sport - and Belarusian Melitina Staniouta - who took two gold medals and a silver to become the most successful gymnast at the Games.
Switzerland's orienteering prodigy Matthias Kyburz, who has won gold medals at the Junior World Championships, European Championships and World Championships, also made the list following the three gold medals he picked up in Cali.
Russia's super-heavyweight powerlifting world record breaker Andrey Konovalov, Mongolia's sumo gold medallist Naranbat Gankhuyag and Belgium's speed skater Bart Swings, who picked up two gold medals and a silver at the Games, complete the shortlist with voting scheduled to conclude on January 31.
As well as recognising the athlete of the year, the top 10 squads from the 2013 World Games have also been shortlisted for the Team of 2013 award.
Leading the way in this competition is the seemingly unbeatable Dutch korfball team which upheld its 100 per cent gold medal haul since the sport's introduction into the World Games in 1985.
In fact, the Dutch team has won all but one international competition it has entered since 1978 including eight World Championships, four European Championships and nine World Games.
The team's single defeat came in the final of the 1991 World Championships where they were narrowly beaten 11-10 by Belgium.
Also on the shortlist is the South African rugby sevens team, who claimed gold in the sports last appearance in the Games following its inclusion in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
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