US GYMNAST’S BRAVERY RECOGNISED WITH NEW GLOBAL INTEGRITY AWARD

27 Apr 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

The Integrity and Impact Award founded by Dow Jones Sports Intelligence was presented at the BT Sport Industry Awards 2018 to former gymnast Rachael Denhollander, the first woman to publically accuse former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse.

After her first courageous step to speak out, Denhollander was also significantly the last of more than 150 women and girls to confront Nasser in the US courtroom in harrowing and emotional scenes during his sentencing hearing for criminal sexual conduct. 

On 24th January, Nassar was sentenced to between 40 and 175 years in prison. Denhollander’s bravery showed the path for the many others who also showed immense bravery in coming forward and speaking out against the abuse they had suffered.

The Integrity and Impact Award founded by Dow Jones Sports Intelligence was created this year to reward exemplary levels of ethics, integrity, transparency and trust in sport.

With legal mediations related to the case continuing in the US throughout Thursday, the award was introduced with a poignant moment on stage from organisational psychologist and former NBA player John Amaechi, before Denhollander accepted the award via a video message.

Speaking on stage, Amaechi said: “Over the past twelve months, we’ve seen incredible and positive sporting moments, but sadly, also moments where the integrity of sport has been lacking and sport has failed its duty of care. Out of these incidents and issues, we’ve seen a number of athletes rise up, speak up and stand up to be counted. These sports personalities have faced up to a barrage of commentators and used their bodies as billboards for social injustice, helping make society a better place.

“These athletes have sacrificed, they’ve dedicated their lives to their sport and now they are embracing the responsibility of being a role model. It has been amazing to witness and we must take our lead from these sports personalities who have found their voice.”

Denhollander said: “I am incredibly honoured and humbled to receive The Integrity and Impact Award founded by Dow Jones Sports Intelligence. Defending children and athletes in our culture is something that desperately needs to be addressed across the entire globe. It takes immense courage to raise your voice but I call upon everyone who is here tonight to find that courage to raise their voice in defence of the next generation, and in doing so, improve society as well.

“The receipt of this award is a significant moment, not just for me, but for every woman and girl in whose defence I raised my voice; who has fought alongside me for justice; for every person who has come forward courageously across the world to fight for what is right. It is a message that their voices will be heard and that there are many in the athletic world and beyond who will listen to them and will fight alongside them.”

Simon Greenberg, Head of Dow Jones Sport, said: “In terms of global impact not only did Rachael’s actions lead directly to the life imprisonment of a dangerous and predatory criminal but it has resulted in huge upheaval across gymnastics, US college sport and the Olympic movement. It has also put safeguarding of young athletes to the top of the sporting agenda for years to come.

“The judging process also highlighted the incredible courage shown by all those who spoke out, but agreed that it may not have happened if Rachael hadn’t taken that brave first step. In that respect Rachael also represents those from other areas of sport, such as anti-doping, who also through their courageous actions shone the light of transparency on wrongdoing and put themselves at risk in the process.”

Nick Keller, chairman, Sport Industry Group: “The voice of the athlete has become more powerful than ever this year, with influential role models around the world recognising the impact of sport as a platform to promote positive change.

“While Rachael may not have been the most high profile gymnast to speak out, crucially, she was the first, demonstrating the genuine bravery, integrity and impact of her actions.”

The recipient was selected following a stringent four-stage process, including a public nomination; a special Steering Committee comprised of international industry experts, and industry-standard integrity checks from Dow Jones Sports Intelligence, before a final decision from the BT Sport Industry Awards Judging Panel, overseen by the independent adjudicator, EY.

The BT Sport Industry Awards are the largest commercial sports awards in the world, and took place at Battersea Evolution in London, on Thursday 26th April 2018. Bringing together sports stars, celebrities, senior decision makers, influencers and global media, the industry’s most anticipated night of the year celebrated the very best work from across the sector.

The famous trophies were awarded on-stage in front of a sell-out crowd of 1,700 guests at the star-studded event, held annually in London. Find out more about the winners at www.sportindustry.biz/awards