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Active Expert: Gale Bernhardt

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Vancouver, Canada (28 February 2010) - Les McDonald, founding president of International Triathlon Union,  was honoured with an Olympic Order on the final day of the 122nd IOC  Session held during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in ITU's hometown of  Vancouver. The Olympic Order is the highest award presented by the IOC  and is given to individuals who demonstrate distinguished contributions  to the Olympic Movement.


McDonald, who served as President of  the ITU from its inception in 1989 until 2008, is largely credited with  the inclusion of triathlon in the Olympic Programme, which made its  debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.


"Receiving Olympic  Order is a tremendous honour and I would like to thank all of those who  gave their support," McDonald said. "With this, and the election of ITU  President Marisol Casado to the IOC, it has been a historical past few  weeks for the sport."


ITU President Casado, who was elected as an  IOC member in Vancouver on February 12, was on hand at the Session to  congratulate her predecessor.


"On behalf of the ITU and the  entire triathlon community I would like to congratulate Les for this  honour. His tireless work ethic was vital in growing the sport of  triathlon and on its inclusion in the Olympic Programme," Casado said.  "We look forward to carrying this momentum through 2010 and beyond as we  push for triathlon's continued growth, particularly among youth."



The press release was issued by the ITU.


For more on the inclusion of triathlon into the Olympic program, see this three-part story.

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During the Thanksgiving holiday week I was in Madrid, Spain for the 2008 International Triathlon Union Congress meeting. The purpose of my attendance was to be part of the Sport Development presentations. You can see the entire Congress schedule attached at the bottom of this blog. (If you don't see the attachment, click on the blog title and the attachment should be at the bottom of the blog.)



The Congress is part of the organizational structure that manages the sport of triathlon within the Olympic organization. The entire management structure of the ITU can be found within the Constitution document in the download section of the ITU website.



If you read the Constitution, you will find that there are specific rules to include a certain number of representatives from the five regions:



1) Africa,



2) Europe,



3) Americas (North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean),



4) Oceania (seventeen member nations including Australia and New Zealand) and



5) Asia



Inclusion rules are established to be sure that each region has a voice.



This Congress was a historical event in that the only president the ITU has known, Les McDonald, retired and a new president was elected. That new president is Marisol Casado from Spain.



More history was made with this being the first ITU Congress that did not require "recruiting" by the organization to fulfill the requirement of at least one woman on the executive board. Though I have not found a complete list of International Federations, I am told triathlon is the only federation with three women on the executive board.



In addition to Marisol, two more women sit on the Executive Board and include newly elected Secretary General Loreen Barnett (Canada) and Vice President Sarah Springman (Britian).



Each National Federation, or National Governing Body submits names to be considered for election. The NGB in the USA is USA Triathlon. Individuals from the USA that were elected to new positions at this congress include:



Melissa Merson (Executive Board)



Joyce Donaldson (Technical Committee)



Doug Hiller (Medical Committee)



Gale Bernhardt (Constitution Committee)



Full election results can be found here.



I will give you a few more congress tapas (name of a wide variety of appetizers in Spanish cuisine) in the blogs this week. In addition to the blog tapas, I am in the process of boiling down a five-hour interview I conducted with outgoing president Let McDonald. Watch for that story in an upcoming issue of Triathlete magazine.






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