IOC honours first female and youngest Sports Minister in Malaysia
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today joined in International Women's Day and revealed the winners of its 2008 Women and Sport Awards.
During the Opening Ceremony of the IV IOC World Conference on Women and Sport in Jordan, IOC President Jacques Rogge announced that the World “Women and Sport” Trophy has been awarded to the first female and youngest Minister of Youth and Sports in Malaysia, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. Azalina was honoured for boosting the number of women practising sport in Malaysia – and this just under four years since her appointment.
As well as the World Trophy, five continental trophies were presented to women who have made outstanding contributions to strengthening the participation of women and girls in sport around the world. The 2008 winners - a mix of political personalities and former top athletes - were selected by the IOC Women and Sport Commission from 70 candidatures submitted by the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and International Federations (IFs):
- Trophy for Africa: Ana Paula Dos Santos (Angola)
- Trophy for the Americas: Abby Hoffman (Canada)
- Trophy for Asia: Lingwei Li (China)
- Trophy for Europe: Stefka Kostadinova (Bulgaria)
- Trophy for Oceania: Debbie Watson (Australia)
The ceremony took place at the Dead Sea in Jordan, in the presence of HM King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; HRH Prince Feisal bin Al-Hussein, President of the Jordanian NOC; IOC President Jacques Rogge; Anita DeFrantz, IOC member and Chairwoman of the IOC Women and Sport Commission; the members of the IOC Women and Sport Commission; and the attendees of the IV IOC World Conference on Women and Sport.
During the next two days, more than 600 participants from across the globe will debate the topic "Sport as a vehicle for social change" and the role women and girls can play in this. Keynote speakers include former top athletes, representatives from governments, businesses, UN agencies and the media, and academics. The event is under the patronage of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and is jointly organised by the IOC and the NOC of Jordan.
Information on the winners:
Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said
As the first female and youngest Minister of Youth and Sports in Malaysia, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has completely revolutionised the participation of Malaysian women in sport. In addition to her role as Youth and Sports Minister, Azalina is a sports book author, a founder of a sports festival and a women's sport and fitness foundation and, last but not least, an enthusiastic sports woman. She set up the Women's Games, attracting 3,400 Malaysian women in 2007; developed the power walk manual, which currently reaches some 60,000 people across the nation; and established 580 community centres, enabling about 100,000 female participants to practise sporting activities.
Ana Paula Dos Santos
The First Lady of the Republic of Angola has taken a hands-on approach to help develop Paralympic sport in her country. Ana Paula Dos Santos is founder and President of the Lwini Foundation – a body that promotes and financially supports the interests of land mine victims. Using sport as a means to bring back hope, she started a collaboration with the Angolan Paralympic Committee and set up the Lwini Cup. During this event, which has already been successfully held six times, people with a disability get the opportunity to enjoy sports activities such as athletics, wheelchair basketball and football.
It was an incident in her childhood that made Canadian Abby Hoffman fight against gender, race, political or unfair discrimination in sport throughout her athletic and professional career. At the age of nine, Hofmann was banned from playing hockey with a boys' team that she had joined as there were no girls' teams. She made a career in athletics instead, and participated in four Olympic Games. Later she became the first woman to serve as Director General of Sport Canada. As an IAAF Council member since 1995, she has advocated equality across female and male competition programmes and a minimum 20% female representation in all IAAF committees and commissions.
Li Lingwei from China is one of the very few icons who continue to share their experience and expertise even after giving up active competition. As badminton champion in the 1980s and having won over 50 Grand Prix and international titles, she has been the catalyst to attract women and girls to her sport. Later she became the coach of China's badminton women’s national team and inspired young athletes to greater heights. Today she demonstrates how women can lead by example by being a Council member of the Badminton World Federation, a member of the IOC’s Olympic Programme Commission and Deputy Director General of BOCOG's International Relations Department.
Determination, dynamism and passion have enabled Stefka Kostadinova to become an Olympic champion in the high jump in Atlanta 1996, but also to develop into a successful sports manager in her home country, Bulgaria. After retiring from competition in 1999, Kostadinova decided to provide her expertise to national sports bodies, and is currently Chairwoman of the Bulgarian Olympic Committee. Through her inspirational athletic performance as well as her management skills, Kostadinova has significantly developed the participation of women and girls in athletics, not only in Bulgaria, but also in the whole Balkan area.
After being a professional water polo player for 17 years, Australian Debbie Watson is committed to passing on to the next generation what sport has given to her. She is a campaigner for drug-free sport and actively contributes to Australian Olympic Committee's (AOC) "Live Clean" drug education programme. More recently, she has also become a key presenter in the AOC's "Winning Attitudes Seminar", which helps first-time Olympians understand the challenges of competing at the Olympic Games. Who else could be more credible in this role than the Olympic gold medallist from Sydney 2000 who played a record of 315 international games for Australia?