We catch up with UIPM Athletes’ Committee chair Aya Medany, who is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, to discuss her dual role representing her fellow athletes
Ever since she made her Olympic debut at the age of 15, as the youngest modern pentathlete at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, Aya Medany has been blazing a trail for other athletes.
As a Muslim, Arab and Egyptian sportswoman, she has challenged perceptions regarding women in sport in her culture to compete at three editions of the Olympic Games and win four women’s individual gold medals at the African Championships, as well as silver at the 2008 World Championships and numerous World Cup medals.
As a mentor for many women and girls in her country, Medany was awarded the 2014 IOC Women and Sport Trophy for Africa in recognition for her contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women’s participation in sport. Now, as chair of the UIPM Athletes’ Committee and a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, she is aiming to make a difference on behalf of her fellow athletes around the world…
How did you become involved with the UIPM Athletes’ Committee?
I participated in modern pentathlon from 1995 until 2012, when I got married and had a baby. I returned to competition in 2015 and was elected to the committee in December 2016, so I have been involved for almost one year now.
What inspired you to represent your fellow athletes?
I faced a lot of obstacles in my sporting career, so I wanted to help others to ensure that they did not face the same issues as I did – or, at the very least, ensure that their voices can be heard.
What does the committee do to support its athletes?
The committee listens carefully to our athletes, takes note of each word we hear from them and then passes those messages on to the higher levels within the UIPM to ensure there is action. We also support them by passing on all the information we receive from the IOC Athletes’ Commission so that it can help them.
What inspired you to run for chair, and what is your vision for the committee’s future?
I ran for chair so that I can help ensure the voices of athletes are heard effectively and their concerns are dealt with efficiently. Especially after being appointed to the IOC Athletes’ Commission, I felt there could be a strong connection. My vision now is to simplify all the information available to athletes so that they can train better and work harder without wasting energy by over-thinking the unknown or worrying about their future.
What inspired you to also want to join the IOC Athletes’ Commission?
It is important to have representation from Muslim, Arab and African women. We have different cultures in sport, so I want to learn from the other members and offer my own experiences of how we can all work together as a part of the Olympic Movement.
What you have been doing within the IOC Athletes’ Commission since you joined?
I’m one of the newest athletes. Angela Ruggiero, our chair, is guiding each of us for particular missions and we’ve been helping by gathering athletes’ opinions to help form the new IOC Athletes’ Commission Strategy, as well as working on the charter of athletes’ rights, our relationship with WADA and so on.
How do you envisage the UIPM Athletes’ Committee working with the IOC Athletes’ Commission during your term?
I will do my best to facilitate dialogue between them and ensure that we each have the most up-to-date information.
How can an increasingly connected global network of athletes’ commissions from different IFs and NOCs work together to strengthen the voice of the athletes within the Olympic Movement?
We are working now on a charter of athletes’ rights, so I think once that is completed we can all speak the same language and have direct connection between the IOC Athletes’ Commission and the IFs and NOCs – as we are doing now regularly.