Women’s Committee Award of Excellence: past winners
10 May 2019
With nominations now open for this year’s ITU Women’s Committee Award of Excellence, a look back at our previous winners offers both food for thought and great inspiration for the 2019 prize. This annual recognition for the achievements of an individual towards furthering women’s participation in triathlon was first awarded in 2012, and has since seen seven fantastic role models for our sport honoured.
“Last year, Theresa Roden received the award from an extremely strong list of nominees,” said Women’s Commission chair Tomoko Wada, “and that is precisely why we hold this event; to recognise the incredible work that so many women are doing all around the world and the examples they are setting. Women’s triathlon consistently sees inspirational new stories and stars emerging and that is thanks to these role models sharing their experiences and pushing us all forward, and we are so fortunate to have so many within the triathlon family.”
The inaugural award was presented 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, for ITU in the Americas.
In 2017, it was Italy’s Antonella Salemi receiving 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.
Last year, Theresa Roden’s award was in recognition of her i-tri: Transformation Through Triathlon programme that is now established in six schools in Long Island, New York, with more than 130 participants involved in 2018. Theresa provides a six-month training programme to enable these girls to complete in youth triathlon, raising funds to ensure that the programme is accessible to children of all socio-economic, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Nominations for the 2019 ITU Women’s Committee Award of Excellence are now open, the closing date for entries being 29 May.