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Women Recognized for Their Contributions to Sports


From left to right: Sara Rosario Vélez of the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico, next to Stavroula Kozompoli (Europe); Kereyn Smith, Secretary General of the Olympic Committee of New Zealand; Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee; Lydia Nsekera, chairwoman of the Women in Sport Commission; Sheika Hayat Bint Adbulaziz Al Khalifa (Asia); and Mervat Hassan (Africa) during the awards ceremony at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland. Photo courtesy of the IOC, Christophe Moratal.

Five women from different parts of the world have been awarded the Women in Sport Trophy, which is presented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in recognition of public figures and organizations that have helped develop and promote the participation of women in all areas of sport, including administration and positions of leadership.

This Olympic prize, which has been awarded since 2000 to representatives from each continent, was received on this occasion by: Sara Rosario, president of the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico (the Americas), Egyptian journalist Mervat Hassan (Africa), Sheikha Hayat Bin Abdulaziz Al Khalifa of Bahrain (Asia), Stavroula Kozompoli (Greece), and the Australian Olympic medalist Cathy Freeman (Oceania). The New Zealand Olympic Committee, the recipient of the World Winner trophy, was represented by Secretary General Kereyn Smith.

The event, which took place on November 10 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, also celebrated the 20th anniversary of the IOC’s Women in Sport Commission, which was founded in 1995, when the United Nations held the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. The Declaration of Beijing established a number of important strategic objectives and measures for the advancement of women and women’s rights. With this framework, the Olympic Committee has consistently advocated for the presence of women in sports across the world for two decades.

Thomas Bach, president of the IOC, and Lydia Nsekera, chair of the Women in Sport Commission, have expressed their satisfaction with the increased gender balance of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games set to take place in Buenos Aires, which will see the most participation from women in the history of the games.

At the ceremony, each of the winners emphasized the power sport has to empower women. The representative of New Zealand, Kereyn Smith, noted that 50 percent of the gold medals awarded to New Zealand’s Olympic delegation were won by women. “We know that, through sport, women can both build and demonstrate the same qualities that also make great leaders—we have been working hard to strengthen and promote this link.”


Sara Rosario addressing those present at the Pierre de Coubertin gala hall, where the ceremony took place. Photo courtesy of the IOC, Christophe Moratal.

Sara Rosario, who in 2012 became the first woman elected president of the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico, said in an aside to the press:

Este es un premio por el que realmente mucha gente ha trabajado. Son muchos los trabajos que hemos hecho junto a las federaciones nacionales, junto a cada presidente federativo, junto a todos los atletas. Todas esas mujeres que por tanto tiempo han dedicado horas y horas al deporte como atletas, como entrenadoras, en los medios de comunicación, como presidentas federativas, como jueces, como árbitros, en fin, en tantas facetas. Yo creo que el (hecho de) que Puerto Rico sea hoy recipiente de este premio representando al continente de América, aquí en Lausana, en los 100 años (del Comité Olímpico Internacional en este lugar), debe ser motivo de satisfacción para todos los puertorriqueños.

Really, the work of many people has gone into this award. There is so much work that we’ve done together with national associations, with each federation president, with all the athletes. All the women who have dedicated hours and hours to sports as athletes, as coaches, in the media, as federation presidents, as referees, [and] as umpires—in short, in so many ways. I think that (the fact) that Puerto Rico is today the recipient of this award representing the continent of America, here in Lausanne, in the 100 years (that the International Olympic Committee has been here), should be a cause for satisfaction for all Puerto Ricans.

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