Although Nadin Dawani made her third and final Olympic appearance in 2012, carrying her country’s flag at the Opening Ceremony, the Jordanian taekwondo athlete has remained part of the Olympic Movement since retiring from competition. After serving as Jordan’s chef de mission at Rio 2016, Dawani was appointed to the IOC Athletes’ Commission later the same year and is also now co-leading World Taekwondo’s Athletes’ Committee. Here, she tells us how she’s trying to ensure that the voices of athletes in her sport and others are heard loud and clear.

  • IOC Athletes’ Commission member Nadin Dawani explains how she is using her position to empower women and guide young athletes
  • Ensuring that athletes’ ideas are voiced and listened to is a priority, she says
  • Find out how you can participate in this discussion at the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum

I first started taekwondo when I was nine years old. I always tried different sports like basketball or tap dancing, and then one day, I was watching my younger brother taking part in a taekwondo class and I immediately told to my mum that I wanted to join in. I went on to earn my black belt after a year and quickly moved on to take part in competitions on an international level. What was very important to me was that I always had the full support of my family, especially my mother.

Balancing sport and study
At university, I had training really early in the morning, then I went to my classes, before going straight back to training and then finally back home. It was really tough because I had to balance between studying business administration and taekwondo. But I managed to succeed and I feel proud of myself, that I could manage both studying and competing.

When I was only 16 years old I competed in my first Olympic Games in Athens and finished in fifth place. Every single moment was amazing. From then on, my main motivation was to reach the Games again. I went on to compete at Beijing 2008, but my favourite Olympic Games was London 2012 when I carried Jordan’s flag in the opening ceremony. It was the greatest honour of my life and a moment I will never forget.

I feel it’s the time to stand for athletes’ rights to make sure their voices are heard, especially for female athletes in all sports.

Standing for athletes’ rights
It’s a great privilege to be part of the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC), and it means a lot to me to represent athletes within the Olympic Movement. I competed at the top of my sport for more than ten years and went through many obstacles in my career, so I feel it’s the time to stand for athletes’ rights to make sure their voices are heard, especially for female athletes in all sports.

I wanted to play an active role in women’s empowerment, as well as using my experience to help raise and prepare the younger generation of athletes. I’m extremely proud to have been asked to take on this important position.

My time with the IOC AC has been fantastic. I couldn’t find better colleagues to work with – they helped me and guided me a lot in the beginning. I contributed my opinions on the development of the new strategy and was also engaged in the communications working group, which led to our Athlete Engagement Strategy 2.0.

During my first year, I was more of a listener, but after two years, I’m now an established participant – sharing my experience and my knowledge. I would love to do everything I can for taekwondo and to remain very involved with the Olympic Movement.

Giving athletes a voice
It’s an honour to represent my sport. Pascal Gentil and I were elected as chairs of the new World Taekwondo Athletes’ Committee in June 2017, and I hope we can implement a good strategy for it.

First of all, we want to set a base so that all taekwondo athletes know they have a committee that represents them. In the long term, we have to create an effective communications strategy to tell athletes about our programmes and everything else we do. In return, we will hear from the athletes and push their comments to the World Taekwondo Council – for example, about the rule changes that have been made in taekwondo over the past few years. We will be the voice of the athletes.

Now, I also work at the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC) as International Relations Manager, and as the chair of the JOC Athletes Commission. I feel like this is the best job for me. I can share my experience with my fellow athletes and follow up with all their issues. I love what I do.

Learning from others
The 8th IOC International Athletes’ Forum was very interesting and very helpful – and most importantly, athletes were the main concern. Pascal and I have tried to make sure that everything we learned and shared there came back to World Taekwondo’s Athletes’ Committee.

Athlete representatives from all International Federations and National Olympic Committees will be able to share best practices and discuss key issues at the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum, which will take place on 13-15 April. To find out more about the Forum and how you can participate, click here.