2008 Most Influential Women in Sport and Physical Activity

The Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) has released its list of the most influential women for 2008, and it has some real Olympic flavour.

Among the 20 women, here are the most notable from an Olympic perspective:

Carol Huynh: One of the bright stars from the 2008 Olympic Games, she captured a surprising gold medal in women’s wrestling – Canada’s first win in Beijing. Her performance ignited Team Canada’s strong surge in the second half of the Games. Since earning national attention, Huynh has spent much time delivering inspirational messages to youngsters.

Jujie Luan: She returned to her native China, competing for Canada in fencing at the 2008 Olympic Games at the age of 50. In China, Luan remains a legend for her gold medal in fencing at the 1984 Olympic Games. She runs the Edmonton Fencing Club, which has seen a spike in enrolment thanks to Luan’s Olympic performances.

Sylvie Bernier: She is the first Olympic gold medallist to return as Chef de Mission for Team Canada. In Beijing, she was one of only 11 women who served as Chef (among more than 200 countries). She is the only Canadian to ever win an Olympic gold medal in diving (1984).

Carol Assalian: Executive Director of the COC’s Olympic Preparation & Games department, Assalian is a leader in developing Canadian sport programs. In this capacity, she is responsible for maximizing athlete performance at Olympic Games.

Penny Werthner: A sports psychologist, Werthner’s research includes how athletes should prepare psychologically for a major event. Many of Canada’s 2008 Olympic medallists worked with Werthner before the big day.

Sara Renner: This cross-country skiier, an Olympic silver medallist in 2006, is dedicated to the cause of global warming. She works with the David Suzuki Foundation and Climate Project Canada, and last year led a 20 km cycling trip in support of climate change.

Beckie Scott: Winner of Olympic gold and silver in cross country ski, Scott continues to be very active in the sport world. She is involved with VANOC, the World Anti-Doping Agency, the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Right to Play and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. The IOC appointed her last year to a panel that is monitoring the 2014 Olympic preparation in Sochi, Russia.

Melody Davidson: The head coach and general manager of Canada’s national women’s hockey team will guide them into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She helped coach the team to a gold medal at the 2006 Games in Torino.

Slava Corn: She is a central figure in Canadian gymnastics, and in the sport on a global scale. A board member for Gymnastics Canada, Corn is also vice president of the Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique.

Cathy Priestner Allinger: For VANOC, she is executive vice president-sport for the Paralympic Games and Venue Management. Priestner Allinger has spent years ensuring the facilities for 2010 are top-quality and ready well before the Games so Canadian athletes can train in advance.

Donna Wilson: For VANOC, Wilson has played a major rule in hiring and volunteer recruitment for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games while helping define and develop the culture of the Olympic Organizing Committee.

CAAWS builds the list each year based on public input and insight from sport leaders across Canada. It is a non-profit organization whose vision is to actively engage girls and women in the sport and physical activity system. For more, visit www.caaws.ca.