My motto is ‘If not me, then who?’
Russian Paralympic Committee Vice President and Paralympian Rima Batalova has been awarded the International Paralympic Committee’s International Women’s Day Recognition at a ceremony at Sochi 2014 on Saturday (8 March).
The 13-time Paralympic champion, who also picked up 18 world titles in an athletics career that spanned three decades, was awarded the honour by International Paralympic Committee President Sir Philip Craven.
Speaking of her award and commitment to para-sport, Batalova, who is also a member of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee, said:
“I gave 35 years to sport, I rose it up, I saw how it was rising and that’s why I can’t stop doing it. It would be a travesty to stop. My motto is ‘If not me, then who?’
“International Women’s Day is a special holiday here in Russia, when women feel that they are special. But I’d like to feel it more often, every day and every minute. Across the whole world, in particular the sport world, women are inspirational”.
Sir Philip Craven awarded the medals at the first women’s medal ceremonies, the 6km biathlon sitting, after giving a speech in which he outlined plans to continue growing female participation in para-sport:
“Through the IPC’s Women in Sport Committee, the IPC’s aim is to ensure greater gender equality across the Paralympic Movement.
“In terms of the Games, the IPC’s goal is for a 50/50 split in the number of women and men taking part and in the number of medal events.
“Here in Sochi, we have 13 per cent more women competing than in Vancouver four years ago. Forty seven per cent of the medal events are for women and to improve this by 2022, we hope to introduce women’s ice sledge hockey into the winter Paralympic programme.”
Batalova was voted to receive the recognition by the IPC’s Women in Sport Committee after a record number of nominations were received from stakeholders from within the Movement.
The shortlist of nominees who were in-line for the recognition included IBSA President Jannie Hammershoej, table tennis Olympian and Paralympian Natalia Partyka, Asian Paralympic Committee Women in Sport Committee Chairperson Fatemeh Rakhshani and Burundi’s goalball pioneer Nadia Harushimana.
The United Nations International Women’s Day takes place every year on 8 March and sees organisations, groups and individuals marking the day with special events to raise awareness of the role of women in society.