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  • New Athletes Commission Members Announced


    (ATR) Athletes voted in record numbers to elect four fellow Olympians onto the IOC Athletes Commission, with a Korean martial arts athlete achieving the top poll result.

    IOC member Anita DeFrantz announces the winners.  (ATR)
    The winning candidates - Korean Moon Dae-Sung taekwondo, 3,220 votes), Russian Alexander Popov (aquatic sports, 1,903 votes), German Claudia Bokel (fencing, 1,836 votes) and Cuban Yumilka Ruiz Cluaces (volleyball) - were announced in the Olympic Village by IOC member and chair of the election committee, Anita Defrantz.

    The election recorded 7,830 votes, representing a record 71.6 percent turnout, while nearly eight percent of votes were invalid.

    Defrantz says she is extremely pleased so many athletes voted.

    "It's a great day that more than 71 percent actually voted in this election, I'm just delighted," she told Around the Rings.

    "I think the world knows just how important it is to have an athlete elected to the Athletes Commission. They work very hard, serve eight years and it's really an important position."

    Russian swimming legend Alexander Popov told Around the Rings it was a difficult campaign, but athletes from his own sport had given him strong support.

    "I tried to play by the rules; my own rules," Popov remarked.

    "I didn't do much in the village, but I did a lot in the swimming pool and everywhere else, so I think the swimming community helped me a lot. Hopefully my history of being an Olympian and a sportsman helped me as well."

    The election was conducted over the past 15 days in the Olympic Villages in Beijing, Hong Kong and Qingdao, as well as at the remote football venues.

    The IOC issued two reprimands during the campaign, one to Bokel for distributing pamphlets where it was not allowed and one to the U.S. Olympic Committee for offering $50 vouchers, redeemable for goods, to encourage team members to vote for its candidate, U.S. women's football captain Julie Foudy.

    Foudy, with 1,451 (7th), trailed fifth placed Belgian tennis star Justine Henin (1,502 votes) and Danish athletics legend Wilson Kipketer (1,456 votes).
    Epee silver medalist Claudia Bokel of Germany. (ATR)

    "It worried me so much, (what I have done) this past week that I'm just happy I made it," Bokel stated.

    "I had a warning. I walked around with my sword and I distributed pamphlets and I played computer games in the voting area; I did. It was actually the first time in a while I had a sword in my hand and I didn't let go."
    Fellow German team member, trampolinist Henrik Stehlik, noted that Bokel has worked hard in Germany as an athlete’s representative.

    "I am very happy for her, she is a personal friend. She's been working hard," he told Around the Rings.

    "We will support her work. She always supports athletes with good friendship and attentive engagement and I think it's a great thing she made it."

    Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) President John Coates says taekwondo competitor Moon had apparently been camping out at the athletes’ dining hall for much of the Games, earning his respect.
    Multiple gold medal winner Grant Hackett has hope in an IOC appointment. (ATR)

    "The Korean taekwondo guy has been there rain, hail or shine," Coates told the media at the daily AOC media briefing.

    "He's put in a sterling effort. He's very interesting. He deserves something. He stops everybody and talks."

    Australia's unsuccessful candidate, triple Olympic swimmer Grant Hackett, finished ninth in the final vote tally with 1,131 votes.

    According to the rules, each of the four winners needed to come from different sports and his rival in the pool, Popov, was easily able to claim representation for swimming.

    "It could've been better," Hackett said of the result.

    "But Alex is very popular. He's been around for eight years now and obviously he has the notoriety and experience and he's got the backing of the athletes."

    But the election result is not the end of Hackett's hopes. Up to seven athletes can also be appointed by the IOC President "to ensure a balance between regions, genders and sports."

    None of today's successful candidates are from Oceania. New Zealand’s sailing Olympian Barbara Kendall - whose term on the commission is expiring - failed in her bid for re-election, with just 1,058 votes.

    Written by Anthony Stavrinos in Beijing

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