New Zealand Olympic silver medallist Sarah Walker has become an IOC Member after she was appointed to the IOC Athletes’ Commission and proposed for IOC Membership by the organisation’s President, Thomas Bach.
The BMX cyclist was elected as an IOC Member at the session in Rio today.
The New Zealand Olympic Committee nominated Walker for the Athletes' Commission as part of its international advocacy programme, which aims to ensure New Zealand voices are heard within international sport.
Walker missed being elected by Rio 2016 athletes for one of the four initial positions by just 27 votes, but was called upon by the IOC President to ensure a balanced representation of athletes on the IOC.
There are currently two New Zealanders on the IOC. However, triple Olympic medallist Barbara Kendall will end her term ag the end of the Rio games.
Kendall had also been an Athletes’ Commission Member. Fellow New Zealander Barry Maister remains an IOC member.
Walker, who missed qualification for her third Olympic Games in the BMX after an injury-plagued build-up to Rio, was delighted with the news.
“It will be such a huge honour to be involved with the IOC and the Olympic movement and I will be doing everything I can to represent all Olympic athletes as well as contribute my own perspective,” she said.
Walker was inspired to try to be an Olympian when she was 8. After trying a range of sports in her efforts to achieve her goal, Walker said her involvement in the Olympic Games had changed her life and she was excited to now have the opportunity to help change the lives of others.
“As I have done with the UCI BMX Commission, I’m looking forward to challenging the IOC Athletes’ Commission with questions, ideas and solutions.”
The news was a surprise for Walker, who was woken in the middle of the night by a phone call from the IOC.
“I usually sleep with my phone on silent, but I wanted to make sure I was available for Eliza [McCartney], if she needed me,” said Walker, who mentors the 19-year old silver medal-winning pole-vaulter. “Instead, it was a call from the IOC.”
Walker arrived in Rio on August 20 to attend the session and closing of the Olympic Games. She travels home with the NZ Olympic team on August 22.
New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith said she was delighted for Walker.
“New Zealand has historically been well represented within the IOC and it is vital that this continues,” Smith said. “We have a strong commitment to high performance within an environment of integrity and respect. Sarah will continue this tradition.
“We thank Barbara Kendall for her enormous contribution to the Olympic movement and congratulate Sarah on her appointment.”
Walker competed in BMX at both the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, where she placed fourth, and London 2012. She has also used her Olympic experience to inspire young New Zealanders in her role as an Olympic Ambassador.
Rio 2016 Olympic Summer Games Sarah Walker Barry Maister Barbara Kendall Cycling - BMX