Sergei Bubka elected to IOC executive board
SYDNEY - Three days after ending his Olympic career, Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka became the first active athlete to join the ranks of the IOC's powerful inner circle.
Bubka, a former Olympic gold medalist and six-time world champion, was elected Saturday to the International Olympic Committee's executive board.
Bubka defeated former Canadian runner Charmaine Crooks and Norwegian speedskater Johann Olav Koss in the vote for the athlete's spot on the expanded 15-member board.
Bubka received 45 votes, while Crooks got 35 and Koss nine.
``I really appreciate the confidence in me,'' Bubka told the IOC general assembly after the vote. ``It's a great honor and huge responsibility.''
``From today, I will start a new life. I will dedicate my life to the Olympic movement,'' he said.
Bubka, 36, is the greatest pole vaulter in history. He set 35 world records, outdoors and indoors, during his career and won the gold medal at a record six consecutive world championships from 1983 to 1997.
But Bubka won only one gold at the Olympics, in Seoul in 1988. He failed to clear a qualifying height in Barcelona in 1992, missed the Atlanta Games with an injury and no-heighted in the qualifying round in Sydney on Wednesday.
Bubka was one of eight athletes elected by their peers in Sydney to serve on the IOC athletes commission. Under reforms adopted last year, the athletes also become full IOC members.
Besides Bubka and Crooks, the other summer athletes elected this week were Russian swimmer Alexander Popov, Australian swimmer Susie O'Neill, former U.S. volleyball star Bob Ctvrtlik, three-time Olympic javelin champion Jan Zelezny of the Czech Republic, former German rower Roland Baar and Spanish water polo player Manuel Estraite.
Bubka, Popov, O'Neill and Ctvrtlik - as the top four vote-getters in the balloting by athletes in the Olympic village - will serve eight-year terms as IOC members. The others will serve for four years.
All eight athletes went through a formal election process at the IOC session Saturday. Bubka led all vote-getters with 92 votes, followed by Popov with 85, Zelezny with 84, Crooks with 79, O'Neill with 78, Estraite with 76, Baar with 72 and Ctvrtlik with 71.
The inclusion of athletes in the IOC and on the executive board is meant to give a younger and more dynamic image to the IOC, long seen as a club dominated by aging, politically connected men.
Also elected to the executive board Saturday was Italy's Ottavio Cinquanta, head of the International Skating Union. He will represent the winter sports federations.
He and Bubka filled two of the four additional spots on the board, which has been expanded to 15. The other seats were filled before the games by Mario Vazquez Rana, the Mexican media magnate who heads the world's national Olympic committees, and Denis Oswald, the Swiss head of summer sports federations.
Also Saturday, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was sworn in as an ``honor member'' of the IOC.
Kissinger helped advise the IOC on its reform process in the wake of the bribery scandal centering on Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
The category of ``honor member'' was adopted as part of the reforms. Such members have no power, decision-making role or right to vote. They are entitled only to attend the Olympic Games and the Olympic Congress, a special international meeting which takes place about every 10 years.
Following is the composition of the IOC's ruling executive board after Saturday's election of two new members, expanding the body to 15 members. Two new members' names in capital letters:
Juan Antonio Samaranch, Spain.
Anita DeFrantz, United States.
Keba Mbaye, Senegal.
Kevan Gosper, Australia.
Thomas Bach, Germany.
Kim Un-yong, South Korea.
Marc Hodler, Switzerland.
Jacques Rogge, Belgium.
He Zhenliang, China.
Gunilla Lindberg, Sweden
Franco Carraro, Italy.
Denis Oswald, Switzerland.
Mario Vazquez Rana, Mexico.
OTTAVIO CINQUANTA, ITALY
SERGEI BUBKA, UKRAINE - AP