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Missed Opportunity

Reading through an interview that Anna Jacobson, the Communications Officer of IWGA | The World Games, did with her CEO, Joachim Gossow, on the state of the preparations for 2022 Birmingham, I came across a mention of the "Greatest Athlete of All Time" selection that is currently in progress.


Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet, Two-Time World Games Champions © Red Bull Content Pool

In my earlier life and working for DanceSport, I used to follow the annual online selection of top athletes for an award in the context of The World Games rather closely. The IWGA member federations nominated their very best with World Games pedigree for the "IWGA Athlete of the Year" award, and the communities of the different sports voted online for their respective favorite. Whoever accrued the highest number of votes was proclaimed the "AOTY" (and received a nice Tissot watch).

It certainly looks like the IWGA decided to up the stakes by a few notches and go from the year-on-year formula straight to the "Greatest of All Time" - the GOAT. It seems to work, too. Close to one million votes have been cast already, and a few more days of balloting are left for the decisive stage.

24 International Federations, of the 30+ members of IWGA, have put forward their candidates for GOAT. Sadly, the World Air Sports Federation is not one of them, even though it has had air sports in every single edition of The World Games since Lahti 1997.

I looked at the profile of some of the contenders who were presented by their sport: nearly all of them are perennial world champions and multiple winners of gold at The World Games. Then I was asking myself: wouldn't air sports have their own champions whose credentials could match those in the contest? Of course they do: Fred Fugen and Vincent Reffet †, undefeated in World Championships or World Cups over six years, Champions of The World Games in 2005 Duisburg and in 2009 Kaohsiung.

Someone somewhere really blew this assignment. And I am not saying that because of Vince Reffet's tragic death in November of last year. But yes, it could have been a meaningful award presented posthumously to a great skydiver and a formidable ambassador for air sports - together with his eternal teammate Fred Fugen.


Vince and Fred promoting The World Games above the The Olympic Museum
Fred Fugen, Cathy Bouette and Vince Reffet † at the The Olympic Museum

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