New European Olympic Committees Athletes’ Commission showcases diversity

Eight EOC AC representatives elected in Croatia. Estonian Olympic discus champion Gerd Kanter to serve two more years as chairman

The newly elected EOC Athletes Commission in Dubrovnik (EOC)
The newly elected EOC Athletes Commission in Dubrovnik (EOC)

A newly elected Athletes’ Commission will help guide the future of the European Olympic Committees.

Eight athletes were elected by their peers at the 6th Assembly of the European Athletes this past weekend in Dubrovik, Croatia. Seventeen candidates in total sought positions.

The athletes elected to the new EOC Athletes Commission are: Gwladys Epangue (France), Blanka Vlasic (Croatia), Jonathan Guerreiro (Russia), Alistair Brownlee (Great Britain), Alexandra Longova (Slovakia), Gerd Kanter (Estonia), Pavlos Kagialis (Greece), Viktor Knoch (Hungary).

Additionally, the new members re-elected the Estonian discus throwing Olympic champion Kanter as chairman for a further two-year term and Russian figure skater Guerreiro as vice chairman for the next four years. Longova was appointed as secretary.

The top four vote-receiving athletes will serve through 2025, while the lower four will enter mid-term elections in 2023. Two additional members will be appointed by the EOC Executive Committee, in consultation with Kanter, at a meeting in late November.

“This is a good start and the right place if I want to be a part of positive changes in sports, which is my wish since I finished my active sports career,” said the Croatian high jumper Vlasic, who announced her retirement in February.

“It is a completely new experience in relation to the competitive part of my career, incomparable with the high jump. The commission is diverse and it is not important that we all think the same, but that we all want the best for our sport.”

European Olympic Committees president Spyros Capralos thanked the Croatian hosts, led by Croatian Olympic Committee president and former Croatian prime minister Zlatos Matesa, and congratulated the elected athletes, while calling on them to be “the voice of your peers ensuring they remain at the heart of our discussions and decision-making processes.

“This includes working with us on the planning and implementation of the European Games, the continent’s leading multisport event,” Capralos said. “It means joining the fight against doping, championing gender equality in sport, and assisting with the transition from athletic to post-athletic careers…all of this requires your valuable expertise, your viewpoints, your say.”

Croatian Olympic Committee president and former Croatian prime minister Zlatko Matesa along with Spyros Capralos in Dubrovnik (EOC)
Croatian Olympic Committee president and former Croatian prime minister Zlatko Matesa along with Spyros Capralos in Dubrovnik (EOC)

More than 70 participants amongst athletes and representatives from the European NOC family attended the weekend meeting in the southern Croatian city on the Adriatic Sea.

Also attending was Emma Terho, chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The former Finnish hockey star provided an overview on the collaboration between the IOC and EOC Athletes Commissions.

Capralos also addressed the candidates prior to the elections, stressing the importance of the diversity among those seeking seats on the commission.

“It is particularly pleasing that, such a large number of athletes – 17 – are running for positions on the Commission today,” Capralos said.

“The candidates not only represent National Olympic Committees from the north, south, east and west of our continent, but they also represent a broad cross-section of different summer and winter sports – 14 in total – as well as both genders.

“This diversity can only be of great value to the Commission, whose mission is to be the voice of all athletes around the continent,” said the EOC Olympic Committees leader.

Participants at the Sixth Assembly of the European Athletes in Dubrovnik, Croatia (EOC)
Participants at the Sixth Assembly of the European Athletes in Dubrovnik, Croatia (EOC)

The European Olympic Committees Athletes’ Commission is the sole voice of the Athletes of Europe recognized by the EOC, ensuring that the Athletes of Europe are heard at the highest level of government of the Olympic Movement of Europe, able to make recommendations and give advice to the EOC Executive Committee.

“On behalf of the EOC, I would like to say that our door remains open to you at all times, as we work together over the next four years on behalf of the athletes and the Olympic Movement in Europe,” Capralos closed in his address to the athletes.

Additionally, the EOC has adopted the IOC Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration and aims to develop mechanisms for effective remedies related to these rights and responsibilities as well as to encourage athletes to make use of these mechanisms.

Below are short bios on each of the Athlete Commission members:

Gerd Kanter (Estonia, Athletics)

Re-elected chairperson of the European Olympic Committees Athletes’ Commission. Four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist in the discus. Kanter won gold at Beijing 2008 and bronze at London 2012. Served as Estonia’s flag bearer at the London 2012 closing ceremony. Five-time world championship medalist.

Athletes Commission Chair Gerd Kanter addresses his colleagues (EOC)
Athletes Commission Chair Gerd Kanter addresses his colleagues (EOC)

Blanka Vlasic (Croatia, Athletics)

Four-time Olympian and two-time Olympic medalist in the women’s high jump. Won silver in Beijing 2008 and bronze in London 2012. Second highest women’s high jumper of all-time. Four-time world championship medalist. Won golds in Osaka 2007 and Berlin 2009. Barcelona 2010 European Athletics champion.

Gwladys Epangue (France, Taekwondo)

Three-time Olympian for France (2004, 2008, 2016). Beijing 2008 bronze medalist in the welterweight division. Baku 2015 European Games gold medalist.

Jonathan Guerreiro (Russia, Figure Skating)

Russian–Australian ice dancer, who represented Russia at PyeongChang 2018, finishing 13th with partner Tiffany Zahorski. 2018 NHK silver medalist. Three-time Russian national championships medalist.

Alistair Brownlee (Great Britain, Triathlon)

Three-time Olympian and two-time Olympic gold medalist (2012, 2016) for Great Britain. Only athlete to win two Olympic gold medals in the triathlon. Two-time world champion. Four-time European champion. 2019 Western Australia and 2019 Ironman Cork Ironman champion.

Alexandra Longova (Slovakia, Archery)

Appointed as secretary of the new EOC AC. Rio 2016 Olympian for Slovakia, finished 17th in women’s individual event. Made her debut on the Slovak national team at age 10. Aged 27, active athlete.

Pavlos Kagialis (Greece, Sailing)

Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s 470 class with Panagiotis Mantis. Tokyo 2020 Olympian, eighth place in the 470 class. Two-time world championship bronze medalist. Aged 37, active athlete.

Victor Knoch (Hungary, Short Track)

Four-time Olympian and PyeongChang 2018 gold medalist in the 5000m relay. Two-time world championship and nine-time European championship medalist.

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