Kikkan Randall is an Olympic gold medallist cross-country skier and IOC Athletes’ Commission member.
As an athlete representative on the IOC Safe Sport Working Group, she has been closely involved in recent positive steps to foster a safer sporting environment.
Learn more about what the IOC and Athlete365 are doing to make sport a safe place.
I think one of the greatest benefits of sport is its ability to bring people together to really go about human performance, friendly competition and entertainment; and because you go from a foundation of respect, you get to benefit from all those attributes.
What we’ve seen, though, is that competition can bring out some of the more negative attributes, and that’s where I think we have to do a better job about educating everyone to recognise signs, and to see the value in respecting each other and coming together to have friendly competition. I think the more we can teach, especially the younger generations, how important it is to keep that respect at the forefront, then sport can continue to be such a positive beacon in the world.
Educating athletes and entourage
It’s a challenging situation because driven athletes tend to be focused on performance, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to make your goals. But that puts you in a precarious situation, and you’re not always fully informed on what your rights are, and how to recognise when things are not going as they should.
That’s where we know safeguarding officers can play a proactive role, and can really help support you by being that person that you could feel comfortable to come to and say: “This is happening, and I’m not sure if it’s good or bad,” and be able to get that support in a really encouraging, safe way.
The entourage, as we know, can have a tremendous influence on the athlete, both positively and negatively. So as we’re educating athletes it’s equally important to engage the entourage in this as well, because they often set the tone and set the culture around the athlete. We need to make sure they’re operating on the right side of things too, so that we can foster a really productive environment to support you in terms of both your performance but also your mental health.
Creating a safe space
In the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC), we’ve been working really hard on trying to unite the global athlete community and really foster the communication and that support network. Through Athlete365, we’ve been able to push out a lot of information to really help with this topic.
I definitely recommend you spend some time getting to know Athlete365 – there’s a way to engage with us at the IOC AC on this platform – and then also look into what kind of similar platforms or resources might be available within your sport at the various levels.
I also encourage you to engage with your national governing bodies, with your National Olympic Committees, and with your International Federations, to really elevate your level of understanding so that you can truly be a partner in moving our sports forward.
Promoting respect for everyone
We all come from different backgrounds, we all bring unique things to the table, and it’s about looking at another person and recognising them for the good things that they bring, and not getting so mixed up in the differences. It’s about celebrating that with our unique platform, and knowing that by all coming together we all rise.
Never underestimate the power you have as an individual to make a difference. Whether you can create a more positive situation or you spot something that is suspicious, speak up, because those little voices really build like a pyramid.
I’m a parent now; I have a little boy growing up; and I want to know that when I put him into sport I don’t have to worry about abuse, and I can only be excited for all the things he’s going to learn and all the things he’s going to do.
So everybody do your part, and we can create a better world.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER YOU HAVE AS AN INDIVIDUAL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.