Bessaguet voted ISSF Male Athlete of the Year for 2023

France’s super-consistent Clement Bessaguet has been voted as the ISSF Female Male Athlete of the Year for 2023.

The 32-year-old from Montpellier added a second 25m rapid fire pistol world silver in Baku to one he had secured at the previous year’s World Championships in Cairo.

Bessaguet had a very successful season overall, finishing on the podium in four of the six World Cup events.

In Cairo he took silver behind Italy’s Massimo Spinnela and in Bophal he was second to China’s Zhang Jueming. After winning the title in Lima he prefigured the World Championship result by finishing as runner-up to China’s Li Yuehong in the Baku World Cup.

European champion in 2022, Bessaguet also won the European Games title earlier in the summer and will carry high hopes into his home Olympics in 2024.

All the continents were represented in the voting, with 14 male shooters earning nominations. 

Second place went to Jiri Privratsky of the Czech Republic, who won 10m air rifle bronze at the European Games and the World Cup Final, with third place going to Hungary’s Zalan Pekler, who won the 10m air rifle titles at two of the six World Cups and at the World Cup Final in Doha.

Li, who won the world title with a world record of 39 points, finished fourth in the voting, one place ahead of Serbia’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic silver medallist Damir Mikec, who won world silver in the men’s 10m air pistol.

Sixth place went to China’s 20-year-old Du Linshu, who set an Asian Games record in Hangzhou in the men’s 50m rifle 3 positions event, with Croatia’s Giovanni Cernogoraz, the world trap champion, finishing seventh.

Alexander Schmirl of Austria, who won a first world gold and a European Games bronze in the 50m rifle 3 positions, was eighth, one place ahead of China’s 19-year-old Sheng Lihao, winner of the Asian Games title in the 10m air rifle, with tenth place going to Petr Nymbursky of the Czech Republic, world silver medallist in the 50m rifle 3 positions.

The Athlete of the Year competition was revived in 2023 under the organisation of the Athletes Committee after a five-year hiatus and followed the same rules that had obtained since its institution in 1984.

The contest came after a particularly busy year involving two ISSF Grands Prix, 13 ISSF World Cups, the ISSF World Championship Juniors in Changwon, the 53rd ISSF World Championships in Baku and, making its return after a four-year gap, the World Cup Final, which was held in Doha.

Votes for the male and female ISSF Shooter of the Year 2023 were invited by Cassio Rippel, chair of the ISSF Athletes Committee, with the deadline falling on December 29.

“The Athletes Committee is proud to be able to bring the athletes again into the spotlight and to give them the award that is so important for them, to pay back for all the efforts they have made,” Rippel told ISSF.

A suggested list of 18 male and 16 athletes was sent within voting cards to eligible members of the Athletes Committee, Coaches Committee and ISSF media representatives, who were asked to list their top five men and women. 

But it was stressed that proposed shooters need not come from the lists provided.

"The ISSF Shooter of the Year has been a role model for 24 years, from 1984-2017,” an Athletes Committee release said.

"A personality, who is successful through unique performances, behaviour and character.

“Possibly not always the most successful winner of the season, but a shooter who represents the special values of the shooting sport with commitment.”

 All the continents were represented in the voting, with 14 male shooters earning nominations. 

The award is due to be presented later this month at the opening ISSF World Cup of the season in Cairo.



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