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November 4, 2013
SMA Gala celebrates top athletes and teams

David Alaba of FC Bayern Muenchen poses with his Austria's Sportsmen of the Year 2013 award at Bayern Muenchen's headquater Saebener Strasse on October 31, 2013 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
by Josef Langer, Secretary General, SMA

VIENNA, November 4, 2013 - Bayern Munich’s youngster and Austria's national football team player David Alaba, Alpine Ski pin-up-girl Anna Fenninger and Beachvolleyball sisters Stefanie and Doris Schwaiger were the winners of Austria’s 2013 Athlete of the Year awards.

At a huge sport gala that was covered live in the prime evening spot by ORF Television for more than 90 minutes, the results of the voting by 556 members of Sports Media Austria were presented.


Alaba is the first football player since Toni Polster in 1997 to win the award. He received 315 first place votes. Behind Alaba on second place was Austrian ski hero Marcel Hirscher. His recent achievements include world champion in Slalom at the home World Cup in Schladming, winner of a silver medal in Giant Slalom and overall winner of the World Cup Tour 2012/13. And third a guy, who is always among the top three but still waiting for first place, Gregor Schlierenzauer, who won the Intersport-Tournament 2012/13, the 2012 and 2013 World Cups in ski jumping and ski flying.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola did not give Alaba a leave pass to attend the gala in Vienna so a live connection was made to Munich where Franck Ribery gave the award to his friend David. “It is unbelievable”, Alaba said, finding it difficult to find the right words.

Not even the female winner Fenninger could join the stage to take the award. She had arrived at the gala but due to medical problems had to return to her hotel. Fenninger won her title clearly, and was followed by teammate Michaela Kirchgasser in second place and climbing star Anna Stoehr in third.

The team accolade went to the sister-duo from the forested part of the state of Lower Austria. Steffi and Doris Schwaiger were happy to receive the title as Austria’s first volleyball players. Behind them on second place was the football club Austria Vienna (now playing in the Champions League), followed by Red Bull Formula 1 Racing-Team.

1500 guests attended the gala to celebrate Austria’s biggest sports celebration of the year. More than a half million television viewers followed the event live. SMA president Michael Kuhn was happy to welcome Gianni Merlo, president of AIPS, as well as delegates from Germany (president Erich Laaser) and Switzerland (executive members Meinrad Stoecklin and Pius Ruegger). The special guests were all very impressed by the sports successes of such a small country. They were also quite taken by the venue, Austria Centre, Vienna and the very large gala event.


Below: (L-R) Guenter Pfeistlinger, Chairman AIPS Handball Commission, AIPS President Gianni Merlo, SMA President Michael Kuhn and VDS President Erich Laaser. Photo/GEPA

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