Women in sports awarded

| 09/03/2009

(CNS): Five exceptional women in the world of sport received accolades during celebrations for International Women’s Day and the 2009 Women and Sport Awards hosted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Olympic Family celebrated. The five continental trophies were presented to women who have made tremendous contributions to strengthening the participation of women and girls in sport on an international level. The winners of the 2009 Women and Sport Awards include former Olympic gold and silver medallists, philanthropists promoting human welfare as well as political personalities and an academic and lecturer. (Left: Lydia Nsekera of Burundi)

The official ceremony was held at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, in the presence of IOC President Jacques Rogge, Anita DeFrantz, IOC member and Chairwoman of the IOC Women and Sport Commission, and the members of the IOC Women and Sport Commission.

National Olympic Committees (NOCs), International Federations (IFs) and Continental Associations were invited to submit candidatures and the winners were selected by the IOC Women and Sport Commission. This year the trophies were awarded as follows:

Trophy for Africa: Lydia Nsekera (Burundi)
Trophy for the Americas: María Caridad Colón Ruenes (Cuba)
Trophy for Europe: Danira Nakic Bilic (Croatia)
Trophy for Oceania: Auvita Rapilla (Papua New Guinea)

Addressing the winners and the audience, President Jacques Rogge said, “I am pleased to publicly pay tribute to five remarkable women who, through their commitment, enthusiasm, drive and courage, have helped increase the number of women taking part in sport at all levels, both on and off the field.”
Rogge also highlighted the encouraging fact that the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games was a colossal stepping stone with a new participation record of 42 per cent of competitors being women, demonstrating the inexorable march towards parity.
Speaking at the ceremony, Anita DeFrantz said: "On the field of play, we are moving closer and closer to men and women competing in even numbers on the world’s greatest sporting stage. It is still the mission of the IOC Women and Sport Commission to see more women in sport involved in decision-making and in the media. The landscape is slowly changing, and women will have a much bigger role to play in sport in the future. This year’s IOC Women and Sport Awards winners are helping to make this happen."

Information on the winners:

Lydia Nsekera
Whilst sport in Burundi has been male dominated, Lydia Nsekera, a former high jumper and basketball player, became the first female president of a national football federation in Africa and the second woman in the world to achieve this status. She also pioneered with the creation of women’s sports clubs in her country. It was under her guidance that the national under-17 men’s team came to victory in the East and Central African Football Associations Cup. Furthermore, Nsekera organised the first women’s football championship in Burundi, and in 2004 led a successful national campaign to get women involved in refereeing, sports administration and coaching. She has also raised awareness of sexual violence against women and HIV/AIDS.

María Caridad Colón Ruenes
Since María Caridad became the first Cuban woman to win an Olympic gold medal in 1980 (javelin), she has played an outstanding role in promoting sports activities at national, Pan-American and international level. She is Chairperson of the NOC’s Women and Sport Commission, and a member of the IAAF Women’s Committee as well as the PASO Women and Sport Commission. While Caridad develops youth sports clubs and trains girls and youth instructors both at home and abroad, she also contributes towards scientific texts and historical records on women, sport and the family in Cuba. In addition, she gives regular lectures on the importance of sport.

Arvin Dashjamts
As Chairperson of Mongolia’s Women and Sport Commission and the only female member of the Mongolian NOC’s Executive Committee, Arvin Dashjamts has played a crucial role in the increased participation of women and girls in all sports and physical activity in her country. A history graduate, former public relations officer and private sector CEO, Dashjamts has consistently promoted Olympians as role models for young girls and women, and has worked tirelessly for women to be elected to decision-making positions of national sports organisations. Twice appointed Chef de Mission for Mongolia, she has helped establish the Women and Sport Fund which is dedicated to the development of a coaching structure in Mongolia. She has been an elected Member of Parliament for Mongolia since 2000.

Danira Nakic Bilic
Danira Nakic Bilic, a Croatian silver medallist (basketball) in 1988, is a member of the NOC’s Women in Sport Commission. She organises Olympic-related lectures and forums in primary and secondary schools, and promotes programmes for female athletes in sports administration and other public as well as political structures. Bilic was elected as a Member of Parliament in 2004, which had a significant impact on the attitude of Croatian society towards top level female athletes in public life. She strongly promoted the development of sports facilities in Zagreb, enabling more people to participate in physical activities. Last year the government appointed her as President of the Croatian Heritage Foundation, which is dedicated to preserving and developing Croatian cultural identity, sport being one important element of it.

Auvita Rapilla
In her 14 years with the Papua New Guinea Sports Federation and Olympic Committee, where she is now Deputy Secretary General, Auvita Rapilla has been instrumental in the development of the NOC’s Women and Sport Committee. As a member of the Oceania Women and Sport body, she has become one of the driving forces behind engaging women in and for sport throughout the region. In the framework of an Executive Masters in Sport Organisation Management (MEMOS), she developed a sports planning tool which is now being used by the various NOCs across Oceania.


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