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Qatari wins IOC’s top award for women in sports

July 1, 2013

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — A sports administrator who helped Qatar send its first female athletes to the Olympics received the IOC’s top award for women in sports on Monday.

Ahlam Salem Mubarak Al Mana was awarded the annual World Trophy on Monday for her work as president of the Qatar Women’s Sport Committee.

The International Olympic Committee called her “a pioneer for women’s rights in Qatar” and said she “has played an active role in popularizing sports among schoolgirls” in the Gulf country.

The IOC said Al Mana also played an “integral role” in the participation of four Qatari female athletes at last year’s London Olympics, the first time Qatar sent women athletes to the games.

“Concerned about the lack of coaches in Qatar, she took an active role in promoting teachers from different schools into coaching positions and appointed overseas coaches for various sports teams in the country,” the IOC said.

Women from five continents also received awards for promoting gender equality.

The award for the Americas went to Marlene Bjornsrud of the United States, who co-founded the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative with football stars Brandi Chastain and Julie Found.

Also honored were Djene Saran Camara (Africa), a political leader and member of Guinea’s national Olympic committee; Boossaba Yodbangtoey (Asia), president of the Thai Weightlifting Association; Ona Baboniene (Europe), head of Lithuania’s parliamentary committee for sport; and Catherine Alice Wong (Oceania), a rugby administrator in Fiji.

“Having seen great successes in the (drive) for gender equality on the field, we will now need to step up our efforts in integrating more women in leadership and administrative structures,” IOC President Jacques Rogge said.

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