First runner-up for World Games Athlete of the Year 2022
It was a nail biter you won’t forget. Monika Chochlikova, 27, from Slovakia, and Valeria Cardenas, a member of the Colombian Flying Disc team, went head-to-head for the 2022 IWGA Athlete of the Year. Chochlikova, a Muaythai competitor and gold medal winner at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, USA, was defeated in the last meters. In this interview, a fighter who also competed in Kickboxing in Birmingham talks about how she felt representing Muaythai in the vote and how much the fans supported her. She typed her answers with one hand: the martial artist had just had shoulder surgery.
What does voting and being runner-up mean to you?
Monika Chochlikova: Well, it was a great honor for me to be nominated by our federation to represent our beautiful sport in front of the whole world.
How did you live the last exciting hours?
Monika Chochlikova: First of all, I have to say that two days earlier I underwent shoulder surgery. Fortunately, I am recovering quickly, although I still feel a little sick due to the anesthesia. Although I had no weather yesterday, I refreshed the voting page every minute, especially in the last hour, and all my fans did the same. It was so close!
How did your family, friends and sports colleagues react?
Monika Chochlikova: Literally EVERYONE votes from day one. Once I got into the Top 10, the support was tremendous. Everyone was very keen on it. It wasn’t just a vote for Monika, it was a vote for our small but beautiful country Slovakia, and my fans took it really seriously.
How did you get fans behind you?
Monika Chochlikova: First, I wrote a few posts about voting and how it works, and when I got into the top ten, I started publishing trivia rolls about me with links on how, when and where to vote. And then it was a free ride for my fans – they’ve shared it on the Facebook groups they’re part of, and we’ve got more and more people voting. These people actively shared posts on their social media accounts. Many famous athletes and celebrities voted for me and shared it with their audience. Even though we are a small country with only five million inhabitants, the mobilization was huge. I would like to thank everyone who voted for me.
What memories do you have of The World Games 2022?
Monika Chochlikova: It was very difficult and very emotional. I competed in 2 sports – kickboxing and muaythai – and there was a lot of pressure on me. Especially when I lost in the kickboxing quarterfinals. But then somehow I managed to win 3 fights in Muaythai and suddenly the pressure was gone and I was just enjoying the moment. I remember crying all the time during the medals!
Is there a moment in Birmingham that you particularly remember?
Monika Chochlikova: After the 3rd round of the final, when I realized that I made it and became the World Games champion.
You competed in two sports. Why?
Monika Chochlikova: In 2021, I first qualified in Kickboxing, and 2 months later also in Muaythai. At first I only wanted to compete in one sport, but then I thought it would be a shame not to try both. Even though the sports were right after each other with no day off. So I took the opportunity.
What is the difference between Muaythai and Kickboxing for us laymen?
Monika Chochlikova: Basically, all techniques that are allowed in K1 discipline, i.e. Kickboxing, are also allowed in Muaythai. Additionally, in Muaythai you can catch kicks and clinch. The scoring is also different. In Kickboxing, you score points when you throw a good technique and damage your opponent in some way. So the fight could have ended 3:2 or 15:10. Muaythai uses a 10-10 scoring system, meaning each competitor starts each round with 10 points. If they lose that round, they get 9 points; if they win it, they get a 10. So the fight ends at 30:27 or 29:28 etc. The last big difference is the length of the rounds. In Kickboxing it is 3 x 2 minutes and in Muaythai it is 3 x 3 minutes. Overall, there are probably 7 disciplines in Kickboxing. One of them is K1 which was in The World Games. Muaythai has only one discipline.
What are your goals for this year?
Monika Chochlikova: First I need to heal my shoulder, and then I would like to go to the Muaythai World Championships in May. I plan to compete in the European Games in June and in the World Combat Games in October.
And for the next years?
Monika Chochlikova: I would like to get to the next edition of The World Games, and if Muaythai or K1 will be at the Olympic Games, I would like it too.
Have you checked where Chengdu, the host city of TWG 2025, is located on the map?
Monika Chochlikova: I know it’s in China, but I haven’t looked at the details yet!
World games is a multi-sport event organized every four years by the International World Games Association, organized with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The 2022 World Games took place in Birmingham, Alabama, USA from July 7-17, 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries participated in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.