The World Acrobatics Society (WAS) celebrated its 26th anniversary (1996-2022) at its annual “Hall of Fame” banquet on September 10, 2022, at the Tuscany Casino & Suites in Las Vegas. An audience of nearly 160 people led by Emcee Donny Ray Evins, a former gymnast who’s now a Las Vegas entertainer, honored the Class of 2022 inductees who were selected for their high level of accomplishment and contributions to the acrobatic community.
Established in 1996, the World Acrobatics Society (WAS) is an exciting, growing worldwide not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization whose members share a love of acrobatics. Its mission is to advance the education, communication, and cooperation among all individuals and organizations interested in fostering the growth, development, and safety of the various acrobatic disciplines along with preserving their histories. The major acrobatic disciplines recognized by WAS include Acrobatic Gymnastics & Cheerleading, Diving, Extreme Sports, Artistic Gymnastics, Professional Acrobatics, Trampoline & Tumbling, in addition to the Golden Achievement Award, Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Charlie Pond Service Award.
In each of these categories, the WAS Hall of Fame has inducted 325 individuals from around the world—including the newest round-up of inductees. These nine outstanding individuals have been selected for their excellence in their specific disciplines, with many continuing to stay involved in a professional and exemplary manner. In addition, they have contributed to society and the growth of acrobatics on a national and worldwide basis.
Meet the 2022 Inductees:
The LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD went to Francis Allen. A legendary figure at the University of Nebraska and in the world of gymnastics, Francis spent nearly 50 consecutive years either competing or coaching the University of Nebraska “Husker” gymnasts. He led the men’s program to eight NCAA team championships, and 42 individual national titles. He was an eight-time National Coach of the year, coached nine Olympians at Nebraska, and was the 1980 and 1992 Olympic Team Coach.
In ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS, we have Jim Hartung, a 1984 Olympic Team Gold medal gymnast from Nebraska who won seven NCCA National individual titles and the Nissen Award (gymnastics’ “Heisman”). He is currently is a Brevet-level judge who coaches at the University of Nebraska.
In DIVING, we welcome Sam Dorman, the silver medalist at the 2016 Olympics in synchronized springboard diving and seven-time National champion springboard champion who currently is a research and development engineer.
In ACROBATIC GYMNASTICS, Bulgarian athlete Antoaneta Kiselichka has won three World Championship gold medals and six World Cup gold medals. She was invited to Germany to coach acrobatics where, over the span of 19 years, her club produced numerous national champions for the German National team.
In PROFESSIONAL ACROBATICS, Fredi & Edith Chy – the Chy Fu Dey duo — performed in the best circuses, casinos, and variety shows all over Europe and America. Fredi then created several successful Chinese acrobatic acts performing with Ringling Brothers as well as in Germany with the famous Krono Circus.
In TRAMPOLINE/TUMBLING, Neil Godbey opened Gymworld in 1972, producing 57 Senior National and Age Group National Champions, in addition to being selected as USA Team Coach for the World Championships in 1975 and 1976 before retiring in 1981.
In EXTREME SPORTS, we welcome Travis Pastrana, an X Games Champion, Supercross & Rallycross Champion, Freestyle Motocross star, and stunt performer who performs a double backflip on a motor cross bike, a move that has become legendary.
The CHARLIE POND SERVICE AWARD went to Larry Lindauer (1943-2020). Larry’s love of gymnastics led him to the World Acrobatics Society, where, as a longtime member and Board member, he served as Vice-President for over five years, providing support, commitment, and contributions to the organization. Accepting the award for Larry was his wife, Kathy Lindauer.
For more detailed information and bios about the inductees, go to the World Acrobatics Society‘s website.
Main image: Photo by Lisa Cawthron
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