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Shining a light on those who make a difference

16 Dec 2014
Olympic News, Women in Sport

Each year, the IOC women and sport awards are given to women, men or organisations who have made remarkable contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women's participation in sport, in coaching or in the administrative and decision-making structures of sport. Here, we highlight the 2014 winners.

Created in 2000, the IOC Women and Sport Awards represent a real opportunity to highlight true role models and change makers in the pursuit of gender equality.

This year’s remarkable winners come from varied backgrounds, speak different languages and have made their mark on sport and society in different ways. They are committed to the belief that the practice of sport is a human right that cannot be denied on the basis of gender or sexual preference.

As true role models, they have made a huge difference for women and girls in sport.

The IOC is proud to offer partnership opportunities to these award winners by funding new initiatives that they  will introduce at national, regional or continental levels, aimed at further promoting women through sport.

For the selection of the winners, the IOC invites each NOC, IF and Continental Association to submit their nominations, which are then reviewed by an IOC jury composed of members of the Women and Sport Commission. 

World winner: Meriem Cherni Mizouni
Meriem Cherni Mizouni has devoted her life to developing women’s sport. A talented swimmer from a young age, she was the first woman to compete on a Tunisian Olympic team, at the 1976 Games in Montreal, and became the idol of a whole nation thanks to her achievements at national and international level.

After her swimming career ended, Mizouni became a coach for young swimmers and travelled around the country to increase girls’ interest in sport, and swimming in particular.

She has held a number of leadership positions, including Secretary of State for Sports and Chair of the Tunisian NOC’s Women and Sport Commission, organising events such as the Women’s Sport Night, which attracted thousands of women and girls across the country.

The Women and Sport Commission has done a great deal of work with female leaders and former women athletes to strengthen their position on the NOC’s Board which today boasts four female members. Also, thanks to Mizouni’s work, since 2012, Tunisian national sports federations have been required to employ female national technical advisers, who are responsible for the development of women’s sport.

As Secretary of State for Sports, Mizouni took several major decisions aimed at strengthening the presence of women in administrative and decision-making structures.


Winner for Africa: Aya Mahmoud Medany

A modern pentathlete and three-time Olympian, Aya Mahmoud Medany first competed in the Olympic Games at the age of 15 and won many worldchampionship medals.

Away from competing, she has contributed to the introduction of school biathlon in Egypt and also helped the Egyptian Modern Pentathlon Federation raise money for equipment aimed at promoting women’s and girls’ participation in the sport. She has also taken part in many charity events and tournaments in different sports to promote and encourage broader participation by women and girls in sport.

A true role model and mentor for many women and girls in her country, Medany has used her celebrity to engage with the media and senior government officials responsible for sport and physical education about the importance of promoting equal opportunities for women and men. Medany holds a Master’s degree in International Trade and is currently fundraising to help girls and women pursue their education without stopping their sports careers.


Winner for the Americas: Nancy Hogshead-Makar

A former American swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medallist, Nancy Hogshead-Makar has spent many years breaking new ground for women in sport.

After competing in the 1984 Olympic Games where she won joint gold with Carrie Steinseifer (USA) in the first tie in Olympic swimming history, she turned her attention to gender equity in athletics, and has been an advocate for women ever since – as a lawyer, author, professor, public speaker and leader.

Hogshead-Makar is now recognised as one of the foremost authorities on gender equity in sport and one of the most influential people in the history of Title IX, the groundbreaking legislation which has given women the same opportunity as men in US collegiate sports.

Her influence reaches millions of women and has contributed to the USA’s successes in international competitions by giving girls opportunities that did not previously exist.


Winner for Asia: Sheikha Naïmah Al-Sabah
Sheikha Al-Sabah has greatly contributed to the development of women in sport and inspired many women and girls both in Kuwait and throughout the region. She has hosted and organised a wide range of women and sport events, such as the country’s first women’s basketball tournament.

Sheikha Al-Sabah organised the first Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) tournament for women in sport as well as other sporting events such as the GCC volleyball championship for women. She has also developed initiatives aimed at promoting women’s football in the region. Sheikha Al-Sabah has held numerous leadership positions in sport, including President of the Kuwait Women’s Sports Association and Chair of the Kuwait Olympic Committee’s Women and Sport Committee.

In those roles, she has organised technical and coaching courses for women and encouraged the participation of women on the committees of the National Federation. As founding editor of a magazine devoted to women and sport, she has made a significant contribution to the advancement of women in and through sport.

In 2013, Sheikha Al-Sabah received an award for general sports innovation from His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid (UAE) in recognition of her work.


Winner for Europe: Anastasia Davydova
A role model for young women and girls, Anastasia Davydova has devoted more than 23 years of her life to synchronised swimming, a discipline in which she won many titles and awards, including five Olympic gold medals. The first female Vice- President of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Chair of the Council for Assistance to the ROC, she works with sports schools to teach children the Olympic values and highlight the importance of physical activity in everyday life.

Davydova holds regular workshops on synchronised swimming all over Russia, tutoring a young generation of female athletes. She has also spearheaded an innovative project for a synchronised swimming school to develop promising young female athletes. Thanks to her work, many former synchronised swimmers have been given the chance to fulfil their potential within the Russian Olympic Committee and the Synchronised Swimming Federation.


Winner for Oceania: Sian Mulholland
Sian Mulholland has been instrumental in developing cycling opportunities for women in Australia. To encourage more women to cycle, she compiled a special cycle racing manual and conducted a six-week training programme for women competing in cycling events.

She is also a founding member of Females in Training, an organisation created specifically to provide opportunities for women to participate in a range of activities, including cycling. Her other notable contributions to cycling include: negotiating the inclusion of women’s events on various open carnival programmes, both on the road and track; promoting women’s cycling events; conducting skills sessions and weekly coaching sessions for novice women cyclists; organising training programmes for women competing in cycling events; and mentoring women working towards Australia’s level 1 cycling coaching accreditation.

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