Campaigning on a platform of trying to be a voice for the future of women’s participation in the Olympic movement, Simi Valley native and U.S. women’s hockey star Angela Ruggiero was one of two voted onto the International Olympic Committee’s athletes’ commission today.
Ruggiero will be joined by British bobsledder Adam Pengilly in landing an eight-year term and full IOC membership during that time.
In a statement issued through the USOC, Ruggiero said: “It is a tremendous honor to be voted by my fellow Olympians to become a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. I want to thank everyone who has put their faith and trust in me to represent them. I will do all I can to be a good ambassador of the Olympic Movement and represent athlete issues to the IOC – not just from North America – but from around the world.”
Scott Blackmum, CEO of the U.S. Olympic Committee, added: “We are very proud of Angela for the way she represents herself, her sport and the United States both on and off the ice. I cannot think of anyone better to represent the athletes at the IOC.”
Voting by Olympic athletes was held over the past three weeks at the Olympic villages in Vancouver and in the ski-resort town of Whistler. Pengilly received 615 votes; Ruggiero got 605. In third place was French skier Antonine Deneriaz (455 votes) from the nine candidates.
The athletes’ commission was created in 1981 and serves as the voice of the active athletes within the Olympic movement. It has 19 members – eight summer sports
athletes, four winter sports athletes, and the rest appointed by the IOC president to
ensure a balance in terms of gender, sport and region.
Ruggiero and Pengilly replace Pernilla Wibert of Sweden and Manuela Di Centa of Italy.
The 30-year-old Ruggiero, an assistant captain on the U.S. women’s hockey team as a defenseman, will be only the third American on the 114-member IOC board, with Anita de Frantz and Jim Easton. The athletes commission has had no U.S. representation since former volleyball star Bob Ctvrtlik’s term ran out in 2008. Former track star Edwin Moses has also served on the board.
Ruggiero told us recently that her previous involvement in the Women’s Sports Foundation and being an advocate of Title IX compelled her to nominate herself for IOC inclusion as she’s working toward a Masters degree in sports management at the University of Minnesota.
“I feel very fortunate to play in four Olympic Games and I’m thinking of ways to give back, to be a voice, especially for women’s athletics,” Ruggiero said last week. “I’m trying to make sure there are opportunities available for boys and girls. The Olympic movement has such power and the ability to be an international voice for sports. Sports is like music, it’s such an international language and speaks to many at once.”
A Twitter response posted on Ruggiero’s account (linked here) just before 5 p.m. said: “I was just elected by my fellow Olympians to the IOC Athletes’ Comm.! I am so honored!!
The commission meets at least once a year and serves as a link between active athletes and the IOC.
“I am so happy for Angela as this is something she’s been passionate about for a long time,” said Natalie Darwitz, captain of the U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team. “I’ve had the privilege of having Angela as a teammate at three Olympics and have seen the leadership qualities she’s brought to the sport of women’s ice hockey in the United States for many years. I know she’ll be a fantastic leader on the IOC Athletes’ Commission.”
Ruggiero, who has a degree in government from Harvard, has been involved in ProSports MVP Olympic Heroes Tour, Charles B. Wang Ice Hockey “Project Hope” in China, and Right to Play.
Ruggiero and her U.S. teammates will face Canada for the gold medal on Thursday. Ruggiero was on the U.S. gold-medal winning team at the 1998 Games, and has also won silver (2002) and bronze (2006) with the squad.
“I am very excited about this important responsibility and am honored to be among such high-esteemed Olympians and leaders in the worldwide Olympic movement,” Ruggiero said. “To receive this kind of an honor and play in the gold medal game with my teammates is the pinnacle of my career as an Olympian.”