The IPC Athletes’ Council has been finalised following the election of Mitchell Gourley. The Australian was voted onto the Council at a special convened meeting. This was held after Gourley and USA’s Rico Roman tied for third in the IPC Athletes’ Council election at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games.
The IPC Athletes’ Council is a group of elected athlete representatives who function as the voice of the Para athlete community to the IPC. It is made up of nine athletes in total, which includes six summer athletes and three winter athletes.
At the election of the winter athletes in Beijing, two athletes - Birgit Skarstein and Joshua Peter Duek - secured enough ballots to be automatically voted onto the Council. However, for the final place there was a tie between Para Alpine skier Gourley and Roman, who competes in Para Ice Hockey.
The Athletes’ Council then followed the bylaws laid out in the IPC Handbook, which state: “In the event of a tie for the last position, the position remains vacant until the Athletes’ Council at their next meeting can make a decision.”
The Athletes’ Council held this meeting at the end of March and Gourley was voted onto the Athletes’ Council. He will serve for the next four years until the Milano Cortina 2026 Paralympic Winter Games.
The 30-year-old, who hails from Geelong, Victoria, has competed in the downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and super combined at four Paralympic Winter Games from 2010 to 2022. In Beijing he and Melissa Perrine carried the flag at the Opening Ceremony.
Speaking after joining the IPC Athletes’ Council, Mitchell Gourley said: “I am incredibly excited to join such a formidable group of representatives on the IPC Athletes’ Council. I am looking forward to continuing their work championing the athlete voice and the power of Para sport to make meaningful change in the broader community.
“Additionally, I hope to explore ways that we can better support Para athlete transitions into purposeful post-sport careers in all parts of society and at all levels of the Paralympic Movement.”
Jitske Visser, the chairperson of the IPC Athletes’ Council who through her role is also one of the members of the IPC Governing Board, was pleased to conclude the election process and for the Council to start work with their full accompaniment of athletes.
"On behalf of the IPC Athletes' Council, we are very excited to have Mitchell join the us as the third winter athlete and complete our team of elected members. Being a four-time Paralympian, passionate about the Paralympic Movement and his experience as an athlete representative and on international committees, Mitch is a fantastic addition to the IPC Athletes' Council.
“I would also like to add my thanks to the staff at the IPC. They were due a well-earned break following the delivery of two Paralympic Games in seven months, but they worked during their holiday to ensure that the IPC Athletes’ Council was able to elect the third winter member at a specially convened meeting.
“This was appreciated because it means the Council does not lose valuable time in helping do our job on behalf of Para athletes everywhere. We are now ready to go full steam ahead as a new IPC Athletes' Council. We look forward to making our contribution the IPC being an athlete-centred organisation."