UK Sport, in collaboration with the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association, hosted an international networking event for sport leaders on Monday evening.
For the first time since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, representatives from national sports organisations and elected British officials in international federations were able to come together in this annual event at the City of London Corporation's Guildhall.
Reflecting the tradition of inviting prominent speakers to discuss major issues affecting the international sporting system, Chelsey Gotell, International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Governing Board Member and Kirsty Coventry, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member & Sports Minister for Zimbabwe, addressed the event.
Chelsey and Kirsty spoke to this year’s theme; ‘athlete advocacy and the power of the athlete voice’, highlighting their own experiences and the impact they have made when serving as athlete representatives within International Sports Federations.
This was followed by an engaging athlete panel discussion, led by UK Sport Chair, Dame Katherine Grainger. Kirsty and Chelsey were joined by Alistair Brownlee in his capacity as a Member of the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and Gaz Choudhry in his capacity a Member of the British Paralympic Association Athletes’ Commission. The panellists shared their personal experiences and their perspectives on using their voices to highlight and shape positive change within sport and encouraged other athletes to do the same.
Chris Harvey, Senior International Relations Advisor at UK Sport said:
“It was amazing to see our fantastic sporting community back together again after almost three years. The opportunity for national sports organisations and leaders to meet, discuss their experiences and share their knowledge and views is hugely beneficial to our work both here in the UK and internationally as we help shape the future of sport on the world stage.
“This year’s theme of athlete advocacy is so important to the high-performance community, allowing them to use their voice to drive positive change, and we extend our thanks to our panel guests for sharing their incredible stories and inspiring the room.”
Chelsey Gotell, 12-time Paralympic medallist swimmer for Canada and IPC governing board member said:
“The biggest thing that I got out of the panel was the common theme that kept coming up over and over around mentorship and the opportunity for organisations to step into roles to uplift athletes into being leaders and to be great human beings.
“This is something that I've seen over and over in the work that I've done within the Paralympic movement, and it was fantastic be able to see that on the Olympic side too.
“Having conversations like this, an event that is centred around athlete advocacy is a rare thing. It shouldn't be, but it's newer to the sporting movement, so it's great to be able to have this conversation and be part of a dialogue that shapes what the next 10 years could look like for UK Sport and our athlete community here.”
Alistair Brownlee, the two-time Olympic Champion in triathlon and current IOC Athletes Commission member said on the evening:
“The importance of athlete representation comes from the belief in the importance of Olympic values in the world and people's lives. Since being brought up watching sports, it became clear to me from a young age that athletes have a part to play on and off the field of play, whether that is competing on the world stage or motivating and inspiring people across society.”