Chairperson of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee, Sylvana Mestre, has won the prestigious Spirit of Sport Award at a Ceremony held in Quebec, Canada during the 10th SportAccord Convention.
The annual awards commend the commitment and humanitarian spirit of SportAccord members who have made an exceptional and lasting contribution to using sport as a tool for positive social change.
Mestre has been dedicated to sport for people with an impairment and to the Paralympic Movement for more than 16 years. She started out as a guide for visually impaired skiers in 1996 and went on to become a coach. In 2000, she first got involved with the IPC. Two years later she became a member of the IPC Alpine Skiing Sport Technical Committee, for which she has been the chairperson since 2006.
In 2010, Mestre co-founded the organization Play and Train together with Mariona Masdemont. The organization's main objective is to provide people with a disability and their families the opportunities to practice, learn and train in sports and leisure activities, regardless of their ability, gender or age.
Play and Train organizes camps, training and cultural programmes to achieve these goals in a manner that is sustainable and leads to long-term development of sport for persons with a disability. In co-operation with the Agitos Foundation, Play & Train recently organized a Winter Youth Camp in La Cerdanya, Spain.
Sylvana Mestre said: "I am deeply moved winning this award. I want to thank those who nominated me from the bottom of my heart.
"For me this award is important for all Paralympic athletes and sports, even those who are still too young to compete.
"I will continue fighting to make visible, promote and educate our athletes and sports, not only every four years, but all year round."
Xavier Gonzalez, the IPC's Chief Executive Officer who was at Sport Accord to see Mestre pick up her award said: "Sylvana thoroughly deserves this award and I am delighted she has received such recognition for her years of effort and dedication.
"On behalf of the whole Paralympic Movement and the huge number of athletes who have benefitted from your expertise, enthusiasm and motivation over the years, congratulations. It is fantastic that such an unsung hero is recognized with this prestigious award."