Alabama is not only home to the 2022 World Games, but also home to a few of its competitors.
The 2022 World Games, hosted in Birmingham from July 7-17, feature 34 multi-disciplinary sports, from gymnastics to billiards. Of those 34 sports, athletes with ties to the state are competing in four: softball, sumo, waterski trick and Ju-Jitsu, University of Alabama’s very own Montana Fouts and Haylie McCleney will compete in softball for Team USA.
Fouts has spent her last four years at Alabama, dominating the field as a right-handed pitcher. In 2019, Fouts was the SEC Freshman of the Year. In her four years in Tuscaloosa, she has been named All-SEC three times and in 2021, Fouts was the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year.
Fouts will join McCleney on the Team USA staff, with McCleney boasting an impressive set of accolades of her own before she graduated from Alabama in 2016.
McCleney, from outside of Birmingham, is the Tide’s all-time leader in batting average, on-base percentage, walks and triples. She has previously played on two Team USA world championship teams, and won a silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics last year for Team USA.
McCleney, Fouts and company are set to play Italy in the team’s opening matchup on July 9, at 7 p.m.
Appearing in a bit of a lesser known sport is another University of Alabama graduate Anna Gay. Gay is one of five Team USA waterski athletes to compete in the World Games. In 2017, Gay competed in the World Games in Poland, where she placed fourth overall in waterski trick.
During her career, Gay has won nine gold medals at the Water Ski World Championships and is a two-time National Collegiate Water Ski Association trick champion.
Waterski trick competitors use small, oval-shaped skis during two 20 second trick runs. A panel of judges then scores each run, with the highest scoring competitor taking home the gold.
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Qualifying for waterski trick starts July 14, with the finals being on July 15. Both meets will be hosted at Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham.
Andrew Roden, a Guntersville-native, will represent Team USA in the sumo competition. Roden began his journey as a sumo wrestler just two years ago, and is now set to take the sport’s biggest stage. After wresting in high school and college, Roden took nine years away from the mat. But now, Roden will don the signature sumo loincloth — a mawashi — for his country and will compete in the middleweight division.
Qualifying and finals for men’s and women’s lightweight, middleweight and heavyweight will be on July 9. Open weight competition will take place on July 10.
Rounding out the list of Alabamians is Raio Campos, who will also take the fighting stage in Ju-Jitsu.
Originally from Brazil, Campos now resides in Columbiana where he owns Ground Strike Grappling. Campos is also a member of the Alabama National Guard. The Brazilian fighter will compete in the ne-waza men’s 85-kilogram weight class.
Ne-waza, added to the World Games in 2013, is a form of fighting mainly focused by grappling on the floor and the goal is to try and win by submission.
Ju-Jitsu competition will begin on July 15 and go until July 16, and be held at the Bill Battle Coliseum at Birmingham-Southern College.
Tickets for The World Games, including the Opening Ceremony presented by Alabama Power and the Closing Ceremony presented by Coca-Cola, remain available. Tickets can be purchased at https://am.ticketmaster.com/twg2022/.
CBS Sports is the official television partner of The World Games, and plans to air one-hour highlight shows upon the conclusion of each competition day. More complete coverage information can be found at https://www.theworldgames.org/news/The-World-Games-2022-32/TWG-2022-CBS-Sports-2152.