Having leaders with a resolute vision for what the Olympic Movement means to athletes around the globe is paramount. Sitting on the IOC Athletes’ Commission since 2005, New Zealander Barbara Kendall is a leader with the vision and acumen to make this happen.
A five-time Olympian from the outskirts of Auckland, Kendall grew up on the water – having sailed for the first time at 10 days old on her parents’ keelboat. Sixteen years later, Kendall turned her sights to windsurfing.
“It’s the cheapest form of sailing,” Kendall said. “It’s also the fastest and most fun. I found I had a natural talent and passion for racing.”
When women’s windsurfing was added to the Olympic programme in 1992, Kendall’s sporting dreams came true. Winning the gold medal at the Barcelona Games was a career highlight, particularly as her medal was the lone gold for New Zealand in Barcelona. Kendall’s victory also marked the first gold for a female athlete from New Zealand in 40 years.
While still competing on the water, Kendall accepted another important appointment to become a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 1996. It’s a role that she still holds today. This led Kendall to transition from athlete into sports administration where she has represented athletes on a national and international stage.
When the ANOC Athletes’ Commission formed in 2013, Kendall was elected to the role of Chairperson. With the position, Kendall also sits on the ANOC Executive Board, where she represents the voice of the athletes among top decision-makers of sport.
“We are the link between the active Olympic athletes and the Continental Association Athletes’ Commissions” Kendall said.
Currently, Kendall is overseeing a whole range of projects and initiatives. They include working with National Olympic Committees and their Athletes’ Commissions to make sure the needs of elite athletes remain a core concern.
The IOC and ANOC Athletes’ Commissions push hard on issues that affect athletes on all continents. This includes leading the way with initiatives such as the instigation of Continental Athletes’ Forums, where issues such as match-fixing and the prevention of harassment and abuse in sport are discussed. “Our core objective”, Kendall said, “is ensuring that athlete views are accounted for and added into the Commission’s work.”