Denmark's International Surfing Association (ISA) vice-president and two-time world champion Casper Steinfath has been named chair of the inaugural ISA Athletes’ Commission.
Steinfath, a 21-year-old stand-up paddle technical race gold medallist at both the 2013 and 2014 World Championships, who has also won two European Cup titles, will be joined by a further six athlete members spanning four continents.
They will seek to represent the "rights and views" of the global athlete surfing and stand-up paddle community, ensuring their voices are heard within the ISA and the Athletes’ Commission of other bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Steinfath is joined by three other medal winners in the most recent edition of the World Surfing Games, United States' reigning champion Tia Blanco, Portugal's team silver medallist Nic von Rupp and Costa Rica's team winner Leilani McGonagle.
They are joined by Japan's Nao Omura, the Nippon Surfing Association grand champion, Australia's two-time distance stand-up paddleboard world champion Jamie Mitchell and a second American, Greg Long, the 2013 Big Wave Tour world champion.
The new Commission also illustrates the "development of the world governing body as an organisation that embraces best practice principles of governance in line with the IOC's guidelines on athlete welfare and the protection of their rights", it is claimed, coming as the sport strives to be added to the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020.
“The establishment of an Athletes’ Commission is a significant milestone in the global development of the ISA and it demonstrates our commitment to offering competing surfers from around the world a vehicle to express their views and raise matters that are important to them," said ISA President Fernando Aguerre.
“The welfare of surfers and standup paddlers is the ISA’s greatest priority.
"It is vitally important that, as our sport continues its global growth, our athletes have an independent means to communicate with the ISA leadership and ensure their voices are heard by the international sporting community.
“As surfing’s campaign for Olympic inclusion continues, the creation of a formal ISA Athletes’ Commission also reaffirms our dedication to the principles of Olympism and the Olympic Charter.
"We have worked hard for many years to build an International Federation that functions with the highest standards of integrity and governance and with a focus on providing a duty of care to the people who matter most in sport - the athletes.”
The members will have the added advantage of being able to learn from Barbara Kendall, another of the ISA's vice-presidents who is also an IOC Athletes' Commission member and chair of the athletes body on the Association of National Olympic Committees.
“It is an immense honour to be appointed Chairperson of the ISA Athletes’ Commission," added Steinfath.
"Athletes are the lifeblood of the sport and they are the reason why so many fans from around the globe love to watch and participate in surfing.
“I’m thrilled that surfers and standup paddlers everywhere have a platform via this Commission to share their thoughts and views in a meaningful way.
"This will enable the ISA to engage and communicate with athletes of the world and empower them to make positive recommendations that will help our sport grow and develop further.”
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