Monday, February 02, 2009

Calgary's Helly Visser named to CAAWS Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity List for 2008

From the Beijing Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to the organization and preparation for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, the impact of the Olympics and Paralympics is evident on the 2008 list of Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity.

The list is compiled by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS).

Twenty women were named to the 2008 version, which recognizes women who have made a significant impact as academics, athletes, administrators, advocates, broadcasters, coaches, executives, fundraisers, managers, officials, psychologists and volunteers. Their selection to the list reflects their influential activity in the calendar year 2008.

This is the seventh time CAAWS has announced its Most Influential Women list.

Fredericton, NB’s Nicole Smith, Chair of the CAAWS Board of Directors outlined how the list reflects the significant sport and physical activities in Canada, “Women were very involved in Canada’s successful athletic accomplishments in Beijing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. And, as we prepare to host the 2010 Games in Vancouver, we see many influential Canadian women leading the way. It is also interesting to see the spectrum of women who are named to the list, from young athletes, to women still competing at the Masters level and those who contribute in many other aspects of sport and physical activity. Because of the depth of women who have chosen to be involved at both the national and international level, Canadian women are leaving an indelible mark on the world stage as well.

Women associated with the Beijing games include: gold medallist Carol Hunyh; Canadian athlete of the year, Chantal Petitclerc, fencing competitor and coach Jujie Luan, sports psychologist Penny Werthner, the COC’s Executive Director of Olympic Preparation Carol Assalian, COC Chef de Mission Sylvie Bernier, official Slava Corn, and broadcasters Robin Brown and Marie-Josée Turcotte. Named to the list with a direct involvement with the 2010 Games include Cathy Priestner Allinger, the Executive Vice President - Sport, Paralympic Games and Venue Management for VANOC; and Donna Wilson, Executive Vice President – Workforce and Sustainability, for VANOC.

New names on the list this year are Newfoundland’s Mary Bluchardt who is working on the Long-Term Athlete Development expert panel; Ottawa’s Abby Hoffman for her work to have women sit on International Association of Athletics Federation’s committees; and Calgary’s 74-year old Master’s runner, Helly Visser.

Returning to the list were Melody Davidson, General Manager and Coach of the National Women’s Hockey Team; Sheryn Posen, the Chief Operating Officer of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame; Carla Qualtrough, the President of the Canadian Paralympic Committee; skier and climate change advocate Sara Renner; fundraiser Jane Roos who continues to encourage financial support for Canada’s elite athletes; and Beckie Scott who contributes through her work on boards of directors.

Young women whose influence is being noticed were named as “Ones to Watch”. The Canadian Women’s Ski Jump Team were cited for their legal fight to have their sport included in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. As well, freestyle skier Kristi Richards of Pemberton, BC was included as a result of her work to help others through her Supporting the Dream Legacy Fund.

The 2008 Most Influential Women (in alphabetical order) are:

Carol Assalian, Ottawa, ON
Sylvie Bernier, Rosemère, Quebec
Mary Bluechardt, St. John’s, Nfld.
Robin Brown, Toronto, ON
Slava Corn, Toronto, ON
Melody Davidson, Calgary, AB
Abby Hoffman, Ottawa, ON
Carol Huynh, Calgary, AB
Jujie Luan, Edmonton, AB
Chantal Petitclerc, Montreal, QC
Sheryn Posen, Toronto, Ontario
Cathy Priestner Allinger, Vancouver, BC
Carla Qualtrough, Vancouver, BC
Sara Renner, Canmore, Alberta
Jane Roos, Toronto, Ontario
Beckie Scott, Panorama, British Columbia
Marie-Josée Turcotte, Montreal, QC
Helly Visser, Calgary, AB
Penny Werthner, Ottawa, ON
Donna Wilson, Vancouver, BC

About Helly Visser:
Active and competitive at the age of 74, Helly Visser mentors other master runners through running camps and weekly training sessions. Radiant and tireless, she trains on the streets of Calgary before travelling to local, national and international competitions. She regualarly breaks her own national and world records, both indoor and outdoor. An advocate for healthy active living, she presents talks and demonstrations to seniors groups and clubs. She i scurrently fundraising and promoting for a proposed Calgary fieldhouse to house 20 sporting associations from athletics to soccer to tennis. This year she participated in We Run, a feature-length documentary scheduled on running, and travelled to Finland to advise Finnish committee on hosting the World Masters Athletics Championships in 2009.

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