Gordon Herber during his key note at ISPO Munich 2023.
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Trade show Munich

Sports personalities who have shaped 2023

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They have won major titles with their teams in 2023, organized successful events or inspired us with their commitment to human rights and environmental protection. That is why we are celebrating these 10 strong, motivating and inspiring personalities from the world of sport - from A for Adrian to Y for Yusra.


Gordon Herbert, basketball coach

No review of the year without these pictures: The man who sensationally coached Germany's basketball men to the World Cup title sits exhausted on the floor directly after the final in Manila against Serbia, physically and mentally overwhelmed by the triumph. The Canadian rubs his forehead in disbelief: what is going on here, what has happened? There was already something surreal about the success in the semi-final against the actually invincible USA. In addition to the outstanding player Dennis Schröder and the comeback of Franz Wagner, the goosebump moment of the exhausted Gordon Herbert will be remembered from the tournament. Schröder summed up why the qualified sports psychologist led the team so brilliantly: "Distribution of roles. Everyone knows exactly what they have to do. He pushes us, keeps us grounded, but still gives you self-confidence. He is now the world champion coach and fully deserves it." At the final press conference, the usually stoic "Gordie" Herbert also shone as an entertainer: "I love the Philippines, but they need better beer!"


Pep Guardiola, soccer coach

He finally has his long-lost trophy back: Pep Guardiola is the first soccer coach ever to win a treble of championship, cup and Champions League with two different teams. With the 1:0 victory in the Champions League final against Inter Milan, the Catalan repeated a coup with his club Manchester City that he had already achieved with FC Barcelona in 2009. Winning the CL Cup was almost a matter of course at his home club, but at FC Bayern and in Manchester he was denied this triumph for twelve years despite dominating teams. Guardiola was well on his way to becoming a tragic figure in soccer history, who repeatedly fell just short in the final stages - until 2023, the year that marked his redemption.


Adrian Newey, Formula 1 engineer

He is undoubtedly the mastermind of Formula 1: behind the successes of Red Bull Racing and Max Verstappen is the brilliant engine designer Adrian Newey. No one designs such sleek and innovative racing cars as the Brit. He previously worked as Technical Director for top teams such as Williams and McLaren. He is therefore jointly responsible for more than 200 Grand Prix victories and the third consecutive world championship title for Red Bull and Verstappen. The latter also broke several records in the 2023 season, including for the most wins (19 out of 22 races) and the most points (575). He also had the biggest lead in the history of Formula 1.


Yusra Mardini, swimmer

A true drama for Hollywood: In 2015, Yusra Mardini and her sister Sara fled their war-torn homeland of Syria. During the dramatic escape to Germany, the two saved the lives of many people on board their refugee boat. When Yusra competed as a member of the very first Olympic refugee team in Rio in 2016, her story moved the world. With her Yusra Mardini Foundation, she now develops innovative sports and education projects for refugees. At the age of 19, the ISPO Munich 2023 speaker was named the youngest ever UNHCR Special Envoy. The Netflix film "The Swimmers" about the life story of the Mardini sisters also caused a stir.


Marion Rousse, cycling official

The fact that the women's Tour de France is increasingly establishing itself as a natural continuation of the three-week men's tour is something that organizing director Marion Rousse can take credit for. The former French road race champion stillsees a lot of potentialin the "Tour de France Femmes": "The first time in 2022, it was all about anchoring the race in people's minds and showing them that a women's Tour de France is possible: Yes, a women's Tour de France is possible. This year, that was no longer the question at all, but the female athletes themselves, their fight against each other, their personalities took center stage," says the 32-year-old. À la bonne heure, Madame Rousse!


Colin Kaepernick, football player

As quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick caused a sensation in sporting terms, but even more so for his commitment against racism and for the Black Lives Matter movement. In September 2016, he knelt during the anthem to protest against systemic oppression and police violence in the USA. This action inspired many other athletes, but also had consequences: Colin was dismissed from the team and has not yet been able to return to the NFL. But a Colin Kaepernick doesn't let anything get him down: Off the football field, he continues to fight against the oppression of people of colour and works tirelessly for justice, equality and integrity - including as a speaker at ISPO Munich 2023.

Jonas Deichmann
We celebrate these athletes not only for their sporting successes, but also for their fight for BIPOC issues and their commitment to sustainability. From A for Alcaraz to V for Vingegaard.


Nirmal Purja, mountaineer

Mount Everest, K2 and co. are his living room: in just over six months, Nepalese climber Nirmal Purja scaled all 14 eight-thousanders on the planet in 2019. This feat was considered impossible and is immortalized in the Netflix documentary "14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible". With his project "The Big Mountain Cleanup", the former soldier in the British Army and ISPO Cup winner 2023 wants to do his part to offer more protection to the surroundings of the mountain giants. He is also committed to helping the people in his home country, as he explains in an exclusive interview with ISPO.com.


Mary Davis, Special Olympics official

A life for more diversity in sport: the Special Olympics World Summer Games 2023 in Berlin were the largest international sporting event in Germany in terms of the number of participants since the Summer Games in Munich in 1972. Mary Davis was responsible for the organization as CEO. The Irishwoman has been a lifelong leader of the sports movement for people with disabilities. Davis was involved in the very first regional Special Olympics Games in 1985. Today, she leads an international team of 250 professionals from all over the world and is committed to the inclusion of children and adults.


Rassie Erasmus, rugby coach

Genius' bench comeback: After South Africa's rugby men won the World Cup title for the third time in October 2023, a few days later the fans were delighted with the news that cult coach John "Rassie" Erasmus was returning to the coaching position. He remains loyal to his position as sports director and is now working in a dual role. The South African is considered an eccentric, sometimes a vocal critic of referees, but above all a tactical revolutionary. During South Africa's success at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, he was already the coach of the Springboks and amazed the rugby world with his tactical strokes of genius. He is also a passionate advocate for the development of his sport and ensures that the rugby dreams of underprivileged youngsters come true. Siya Kolisi was the first black player to be appointed captain.


David Beeche, soccer official

Unprecedented enthusiasm: an incredible 81,500 spectators attended the opening match of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023 in Sydney alone. The tournament in Australia and New Zealand was a colourful celebration of soccer, set attendance records and provided a boost for women's soccer. New Zealander David Beeche, the tournament organizer, also played a big part in this. "I have two daughters who play soccer, so I've seen first-hand the important lessons and positive impact soccer can have on the development of young people, especially teenage girls," said the former triathlete. It's just a shame that an assaultive kiss from the head of the Spanish FA after the final put an unpleasant end to this wonderful spectacle Down Under.

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