Former World No. 1 shuttler Saina Nehwal was appointed today to the International Olympic Committee’s Athlete’s Commission, in a letter sent to her by the organization’s president Thomas Bach yesterday.
The Indian ace, who won bronze at the London 2012 Olympics but this year saw her run cut short by injury, was nominated to the prestigious panel during the Rio 2016 Olympics, received a letter that said
“Following your candidature for the elections of the IOC Athletes’ Commission during the Olympic Games Rio 2016, it is with great pleasure to appoint you in consultation with the Chair, as Member of the Athletes’ Commission.”
Still recuperating from a serious knee injury and in visible pain during the Olympics, Nehwal recently resumed practice, but has not competed in any professional event since the Olympic games. Although she could yet participate in the Dubai Super Series Finals at the end of the year, the shuttler is yet to confirm the same.
She has said she “hopes to compete”, however.
Nehwal’s father, one of her mentors, described himself as “very emotional” following the news. It is a matter of great privilege for us that they recognised her and to be a part of the IOC. They thought that she could be of some use. She lost (a medal in the Olympics) because of the injury. We are proud of her,” Harvir Singh said.
What is the Athletes’ Commission?
According to the IOC, the mission of the Commission is to ensure that the athletes' viewpoint remains at the heart of the Olympic Movement decisions. To that effect, the Commission is invited by the IOC President to submit proposals, recommendations and/or reports to the IOC Executive Board or the IOC Session.
The Commission is essentially in place to ensure that athletes have all-rounded support, and members of the commission are able to suggest not only changes to the system, but also be able to create guidelines for future Games.
As professional sportspersons, members of the Commission will be able to provide valuable inputs on the functioning of the Games, how best they could be improved, and where support is, perhaps, lacking for athletes.
They could also suggest changes that would overcome these obstacles significantly, and are also involved in several significant decisions – among them the evaluation of future Olympics hosts.
Members of the commission are, importantly, athletes’ point of support to air grievances, issues and help with all-round development.
Nehwal, as a seasoned sportswoman who has experienced many of the highs and lows of professional sport, is an appropriate choice to help guide other athletes through a system she has experienced.