Women’s Committee Award of Excellence: the legendary figures honoured so far
With nominations now open for this year’s ITU Women’s Committee Award of Excellence, we take a look back at the previous winners, all of them sources of great inspiration for the 2018 prize. This annual recognition for the achievements of an individual or entity furthering women’s participation in triathlon began in 2012, with six superb role models for our sport honoured since that time.
“One glance at the names that have received this honour in the past tells us all we need to know about the significant place the prize holds,” said Women’s Committee chair Tomoko Wada. “These are people who have dedicated themselves to achieving something special within the sport and gone on to share their experiences, enabling others to follow their example. Women involved in triathlon around the world continue to owe them all a great debt and we look forward to receiving more strong nominations this year.”
The inaugural award in 2012 went to America’s Celeste Callahan, former General Secretary of USA Triathlon. Having only discovered multisport at the age of 35, Celeste went on to take part in over 250 events around the world, winning multiple world championship medals, becoming a coach and technical official and inspiring countless others to follow her example by challenging themselves to achieve something they may never have thought they could.
The winner in 2013, Britain’s Jasmine Flatters MBE’s relationship with the sport began as a race volunteer in the 1980s before she assumed ever more central roles to reach the British Triathlon Association Board of Directors, which she chaired in 2005 and 2006. An inspiration to all who met her, Jasmine has held technical roles at all levels including ITU World Championships and Olympic Games, and even received an MBE in 2014, one year after her Award of Excellence.
The 2014 winner was South Africa’s Vivienne Williams. In her role as Sports Manager at a girls school in Cape Town, Vivienne was charged with organising events, tours and tournaments and motivating young women to enjoy and partake in a variety of sports. A pro triathlete for five years in the 1990s, she went on to become a South African Ironman Age Group champion and record holder and ITU World age-group Triathlon champion over the Olympic distance, but also found time to gain Level 2 ITU Coaching certification: a truly inspirational figure for anyone fortunate enough to have been taught by her.
The 2015 award went to New Zealand’s Kathy Sheldrake for her boundless generosity with both time and considerable experience, which she used to help young women break into the sport. A founding member of the Gisbourne Triathlon Club back in 1984, Kathy’s knowledge and ability saw her go on to become a key member of the New Zealand training team across three Olympic cycles; Sydney 2000, Beijing 2008 and London 2012.
Winner of the 2016 award, Claudia Llanes has coached youngsters and elites alike, furthering the triathlon landscape in her native Mexico and inspiring young women athletes in the country for over 20 years. Claudia has been involved in the ITU World Series as both an athlete and a commentator, and is a central figure in the development and certification of coaches, particularly female coaches, for ITU in the Americas.
In 2017, Italy’s Antonella Salemi received the Award of Excellence. Having founded Women Triathlon Italia in 2012, membership has more than tripled thanks to Antonella’s popular training camps and the races she organises throughout the country, helping to bring more opportunities for young women in the sport. Antonella came to triathlon later in life at the age of 47 but, having discovered the magic of the sport, has made it her mission to help other women of all ages to do likewise.
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