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IN a first for this country, four Zimbabweans will this year sit on different commissions of the International Olympic Committee. Thomas Bach, the IOC president, on Tuesday announced the composition of his organisation’s commissions for 2014 and in an unprecedented move, he appointed four Zimbabweans — swimming sensation and two-time Olympic gold medallist Kirsty Coventry, the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee president Admire Masenda, his chief executive Anna Mguni and former ZOC president Tomas Ganda Sithole — to sit on the different commissions of the world’s supreme sports body.

Masenda returns to the Culture and Olympic Education Commission, Mguni was appointed to the Entourage Commission, Coventry, who was elected to the Athletes Commission by her peers in London during the 2012 Olympic Games was also appointed, along with Sithole, to the Olympic Solidarity Commission.

In fact, the composition of the IOC commissions for 2014 has an increase in female members (to 23 per cent) and a much broader geographical representation.

“The make-up of the commissions, which provide assistance to the IOC and Olympic Games Organising Committees, reflects the Olympic Movement’s commitment to universality. There will now be two more commissions chaired by women and 22 more positions held by women in 2014 than in 2013 (female representation from Africa increased by 50 per cent), and a significant overall increase in the representation of members from Africa and Oceania,” according to the IOC’s official website.

And Sithole, who served as ZOC president from June 1982 until he quit the hot seat in November 2002, was the first to congratulate his fellow Zimbabweans — Coventry, Masenda and Mguni — for being appointed to sit on the various IOC commissions for 2014.

Writing on his Facebook wall yesterday Sithole said: “Unprecedented! Well done folks. I’m so damn proud of you.”

Mguni could also not hide her excitement over this latest development, thanking God for it.

“The Lord’s faithfulness is revealed, in HIS time . . . consistently,” Mguni wrote on her Facebook wall on Tuesday soon after Bach announced her appointment as a member of the IOC Entourage Commission.

She was also congratulated by former athletics administrator Edward Siwela who said she deserved her appointment to the IOC Entourage Commission due to her hard work as the ZOC chief executive.

The IOC Entourage Commission deals with matters concerning the relationship between athletes, coaches, managers, sponsors and all other stakeholders that support athletes worldwide.

The IOC Entourage Commission is headed by former world pole vault champion Sergey Bubka of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, ZOC president Masenda received yet another vote of confidence and recognition for his leadership qualities when he was retained as a member of the IOC Culture and Olympic Education for the fifth time in a row.

Masenda’s first appointment to the commission was in 2010 when he became only the second Zimbabwean to serve in an IOC commission after former ZOC president Sithole.

The former basketball administrator was retained as a member of the IOC Culture and Olympic Education in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The commission is headed by Lambis Nikolaou from Greece.

Members of the commission are drawn from various countries and it (the commission) is also composed of IOC members along with representatives of International Federations, National Olympic Committees, athletes, the Paralympic Movement and individual experts.

The mandate of the IOC commission for culture and Olympic education is to aise the IOC on the promotion of culture and Olympic education and supports IOC programmes and activities related to the education of youth through sport.

Its role is to aise the IOC executive board on what policy the IOC and Olympic Movement should adopt in terms of the promotion of culture and Olympic education and, through its members, supports the IOC programmes and activities in this field.

Masenda will be joined in serving the IOC this year by fellow Zimbabweans, Sithole and Coventry, who were appointed as members of the organisation’s Olympic Solidarity Commission on Tuesday.

Seasoned administrator Sithole was named as one of the five “experts” who will sit on the Olympic Solidarity Commission.

The other four “experts” are Kuwaiti’s Husain Al-Mussalam, Ricardo Blas of Guam, Italian Raffaele Pagnozzi and Jimena Saldana of Mexico.

The Olympic Solidarity Commission’s aim is to organise assistance for all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), particularly those with the greatest needs, so that they can develop their own structures to favour the expansion of sport in their country. Cheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah is the chairman of the Olympic Solidarity Commission.

Al Sabah is a Kuwaiti politician and the current president of Olympic Council of Asia and also a member of the IOC.

Former IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch, and the president of the National Olympic Committees of Africa (Anoca), Lassana Palenfo, are also members of the Olympic Solidarity Commission and will be rubbing shoulders with our own swimming sensation Kirsty Coventry during their meetings this year.

And Nicholas Munyonga, a member of the ZOC Medical Commission, yesterday said the appointment of Coventry, Masenda, Sithole and Mguni as members of different commissions of the IOC will help put the country firmly on the international sporting map.

“Congratulations. You set the pace and make us proud. Simudzai mureza wedu we Zimbabwe,” Munyonga wrote on his Facebook wall yesterday.

Source : The Herald