Lydia Zijdel winnaar van Spirit of Sport Award 2011 in Londen

London, 8 April 2011 – SportAccord’s 2011 Individual Spirit of Sport Award was awarded to Lydia la Rivière-Zijdel, while the top Project Award went to Special Olympics.

A further two project Awards were made to the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) for their project “Engineering the Future – Promoting Paralympic Sport in Africa” and FIFA’s “Football for Hope” initiative which were voted in the second and third place respectively by the Awards Commission.

Lydia la Riviere Zijdel dedicates her life to enhancing opportunities for boys and girls around the world to participate in sport. She has focused her efforts on enabling persons with disabilities to become involved in sports and physical activities. Working principally in Ethiopia and South Africa, she has changed the lives of those so often considered outcasts within society. ‘Sport, like life itself, challenges to transcend your boundaries and limitations and to transfer them into achievements and abilities’ she expressed upon winning her Award.

Special Olympics and their project “2010 Special Olympics Regional Games” was the winner of the project awards. In 2010, Special Olympics International undertook the challenge to execute five regional multi-sports events in the same year. These five Regional Games held in the USA, Poland, Syria, China, and Puerto Rico impacted upon almost 36,000 people directly; among them 9,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 117 countries, family members and 17,000 volunteers. With their multi-faceted programme, the Special Olympics address not only the stigma associated with having an intellectual disability but help countries provide opportunities for these people to participate in sports while promoting inclusivity and acceptance amongst society at large.

“To receive the “Spirit of Sport” Award from SportAccord is a tremendous honor for Special Olympics as this award recognizes the critical role of sport as a catalyst for changing the lives of millions of persons with and without intellectual disabilities,” shared Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO of Special Olympics. “Sport teaches us to recognize our similarities over our differences while celebrating the effort to do one’s best in a spirit of respect. And while Special Olympics has had a positive impact on many persons with an intellectually disability, there are many more people that are still hidden, shunned or abused. We look forward to working more closely with the international sports community to broaden the reach of our organizations and bring the joy and goodwill of sport to many more people.”

SportAccord President Hein Verbruggen said “The quality of the applications submitted this year was outstanding. We congratulate all our nominees and shortlisted projects received from our members including: Aikido, Basketball, Cricket, Football, Gymnastics, Hockey, Judo, Motorcycling, Netball, Rugby, Skiing, Surfing, Taekwondo, Special Olympics and the International Paralympic Committee.”

Bron: (with thanks to