The primary objective of the ONOC Athletes’ Commission is to represent the voices and concerns of athletes, the primary stakeholders in the Olympic Movement. It bridges athletes to ONOC, ANOC and the IOC through year-long activities and representation at management and governance levels ensuring athlete voices are factored in decision-making.
The ONOC Athletes’ Commission was established in 2005, directly linking to Barbara Kendall (Sailing, NZ) becoming an IOC Member. This was followed with her extensive lobbying around Oceania for the setting up of Athletes’ Commissions at NOC level.
BARBARA KENDALL - INAUGURAL CHAIR
Barbara Kendall came into the position of Chair with an impressive record as an athlete and advocate for Olympism. She competed in five Olympic Games from 1992 to 2008 in windsurfing for New Zealand. She won gold at Barcelona in 1992, silver at Atlanta 1996 and bronze at Sydney 2000. She also won 11 world championship medals and 25 New Zealand national championships during her sporting career. Her commitment and contribution to Olympism and sport are immense with a few being as follows: membership in IOC Commissions - IOC Women in Sport Commission, IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission (2009-2016), and IOC Athletes’ Commission (2005-2015). Her awards include the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to sport leadership (2019)New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) Order Holder (2016)Sport New Zealand Leadership Award (2014)Member of the British Empire (MBE) (1993)
Barbara Kendall was joined by three other outstanding athletes from Oceania - Mary Mahuk (Track and Field, Vanuatu), Nacanieli Takayawa (Judo, Fiji), and Marcus Stephens (Weightlifting, Nauru). A year later, 2006, the Commission team was joined by Allana Slater (Gymnastics, Australia).
The Athletes’ Commission partnered with the Oceania Regional Anti-Doping Organisation (ORADO) to deliver a successful programme of activities around anti-doping in sport. It also delivered activities around health with a focus on HIV and AIDS. This has evolved into its flagship, the Voices of the Athletes (VOA) Programme. The work done in the early years of the Athletes' Commission are attributed to Barbara Kendall and Natanya Potoi. Over the years, the ONOC AC has delivered innovative programmes with tangible impact. One of it, the Excellence for Life Programme which underscored 2009 and the joining of Andrew Lepani (Football, PNG).
The ONOC Athletes’ Commission is now represented at ONOC Executive Board and in all four other ONOC Commissions.
WORKING WITH THE PACIFIC GAMES COUNCIL
The ONOC Athletes’ Commission also adds value to ONOC’s relationship with the Pacific Games Council (PGC).
The PGC administers the Pacific Games which is treated as the Oceania continental games, an event that ultimately progresses athletes to the Olympic Games based on performance. Since the establishment of ONOC in 1981, the PGC has provided this support mechanism in the absence of a continental games in Oceania.
The ONOC Athletes’ Commission reciprocates by providing its VOA Programme as a mechanism for the PGC to use as a governance tool. The VOA facilitates election of a PGC Athletes’ Representative who then represents athletes within the PGC itself and within the ONOC Athletes’ Commission.
RYAN PINI - ATHLETES' REPRESENTATIVE
Champion Papua New Guinean swimmer, Ryan Pini, is currently serving his second term as PGC Athletes’ Representative. He represents athletes in the PGC Board and within the ONOC Athletes Commission.
Ryan Pini is a 28-times Pacific Games swimming gold medallist, a Commonwealth Games gold medallist, and an Olympic finalist. He also serves on the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Athletes’ Committee. In his second term, he has prioritised the integration of Australia and New Zealand into the Pacific Games.
The ONOC and PGC partnership which is strengthened through the ONOC Athletes’ Commission and the VOA Programme is a joint platform that provides a holistic support system for athletes in Oceania.