Athletes’ Commission: Make your voice heard

Cycling South Africa’s Co-opted Rider Representative, Lise Olivier, is in the process of establishing an official Athletes’ Commission for the National Federation. In doing so, Olivier is calling for interested cyclists in the various cycling disciplines of Track, Road, BMX, Mountain Bike and Para-cycling, to submit nominations to be part of Cycling South Africa’s Athletes’ Commission.

Marianne Vos, a member of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Athletes’ Commission, says: “Cyclists have two options in order to express themselves. Either they can grumble in public and remain aloof, or they can get around the table to discuss issues, work together and make progress. The Athletes’ Commission has definitely chosen the second option. It is now up to us to make it work.”

Olivier believes that an effectively run Athletes’ Commission will create a platform where cyclists’ views are represented and their voices heard. “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) encourages Athletes’ Commissions within Federations where the voices of athletes can be heard and their experiences used for the improvement of their sport,” said Olivier. “78% of National Olympic Committees and 91% of International Federations now have an active Athletes’ Commission.”

Role of the Athletes’ Commission for Cycling South Africa

The main goal is to strengthen the link between the athletes and the National Federation, Cycling South Africa (Cycling SA), which presents the opportunity to improve every aspect of the sport.

According to the IOC’s “Guide to Developing an Effective Athletes’ Commission” the following can be accomplished:

  1. Develop ambassadors who are involved in and understand the decisions being made
  2. Improve decision-making by providing a sound testing ground for the impact and reaction to change
  3. Provide credibility in an era where organisations are being scrutinised in their decision making
  4. Offer a fresh perspective on new trends and issues the sport of cycling is faced with
  5. Reach out and communicate with athletes on a peer-to-peer basis collecting feedback and new ideas

Structure of the Athletes’ Commission for Cycling South Africa

  1. The Athletes’ Commission should have a balance of male and females and representation from different regions and different disciplines
  2. Minimum of five riders (ideally working towards eight), majority elected/nominated by peers
  3. Consist of active or recently active athletes
  4. Provides minimum of a four-year term to members
  5. Has a seat on the Executive Board of Cycling South Africa (chair will sit on the Executive Board of Cycling South Africa)
  6. Meets physically once a year, with continued communication between meetings and representation at big events/races

Inspiration from other established Athletes’ Commissions

Jani Tanskanen, President of Athletes’ Commission, International Gymnastics Federation (FIG): “For the Athletes, I feel that the existence of the Athletes’ Commission has increased their trust towards our organisation. They know that their opinions are taken into consideration in the decision making process while it also provides them with a better understanding of why and how some decisions are reached. Our organisation has become much more transparent for them.”

Benedict Chambers, Member of Athletes’ Commission, International Fencing Federation (FIE): “Our Commission has been active in canvassing athletes about changes to rules or competition calendars. This has allowed us to report back to our governing bodies about our concerns and to open a dialog on these changes that has seen some of our suggestions implemented”.

Interested cyclists, or those who would like to nominate someone to be part of Cycling South Africa’s Athletes’ Commission, should please contact Lise Olivier by email lise@velolife.co.za