By Brad Culp on 23/06/10 at 10:46 pm
ITU Honorary President Les McDonald today received a continental trophy at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) 2010 Women and Sport Awards, held at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Five continental trophies and one world trophy were given to exceptional personalities who have made a significant different to boost the development, participation and involvement of women and girls in sport around the world. McDonald, from Canada, was given the award for the Americas and was the only male to receive the award this year.
Addressing the winners and the audience, IOC President Rogge said: “It is fitting that our celebration of Olympic Day this year includes the presentation of the 2010 IOC Women and Sport Awards. For all the progress that society has made, we still need to improve the access of girls and women to sport around the world. The recipients of the Women and Sport Awards are role models who are opening doors to gender equality on the field of play, within coaching staff and in sports administration.”
McDonald is the Founding President of ITU, serving as President from 1989-2008. As one of the leaders of the sport, McDonald was instrumental in triathlon’s inclusion in the Olympic Games and in growing the participation of women in triathlon. He established the first triathlon in Canada to have equal prize purses for women and men, which is a fundamental principle of ITU today. McDonald became motivated to work toward gender equality in sport after his daughter was denied entry into a running race in 1975. Shortly thereafter, McDonald started a 10K race in his hometown of Vancouver exclusively for women.
ITU President Marisol Casado accepted the award on McDonald’s behalf, who was undergoing hip surgery and unable to attend the event. Speaking on his behalf, Casado said: “Les McDonald was the driving force behind the introduction of triathlon to the Olympic Games, but his tireless efforts on behalf of women in triathlon are less well documented. After he retired as ITU President, ITU elected two women to our federation in key roles, myself as President and Loreen Barnett, Secretary General, without opposition from the congress. It is my pleasure to be standing here today to accept this award on behalf of Les McDonald, and we vow to continue his tireless work on behalf of women in sport all around the world.”
The IOC Women and Sport Awards were first introduced in 2000 under the presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch. Every year, trophies are awarded to a person or organisation that has worked to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls in physical and sports activities, in coaching or in administrative and decision-making structures, as well as for the promotion of female journalists and women’s sport in the media. Each National Olympic Committee, International Federation or Continental Association may propose one candidate to the IOC Women and Sport Commission, whose members make the final choice.
This year’s Women and Sport Awards coincided with the annual Olympic Day celebration, commemorating the birthday of the modern Olympic Games. The IOC was formally founded on 23 June 1894 in Paris.