Winners promote women in sport around the world
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, 8 March, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) attributed the 2009 Women and Sport Awards. Five exceptional personalities in the world of sport received the accolades.
Marching towards parity
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.
And the winners are…
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.
This year, the trophies were awarded as follows:
• Africa: Lydia Nsekera (Burundi)
• Americas: María Caridad Colón Ruenes (Cuba)
• Asia: Arvin Dashjamts (Mongolia)
• Europe: Danira Nakic Bilic (Croatia)
• Oceania: Auvita Rapilla (Papua New Guinea)
Whilst sport in Burundi has traditionally 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.
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. Over the years, Caridad has developed many youth sports clubs and trained girls and youth instructors both at home and abroad.
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. 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.
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. She strongly promoted the development of sports facilities in Zagreb, enabling more people to participate in physical activities.
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.