It was the latest in a long list of common threads that intertwine the two athletes’ Olympic histories. Both made their Olympic debuts at Nagano 1998, for example, and both have appeared in each edition of the Olympic Winter Games since. Both are legends in their respective sports -- he in biathlon, she in ice hockey. And both are multiple medal winners, sharing no fewer than 18 pieces of Olympic hardware between them, including 12 gold.
The similarities continued here in Sochi earlier this week when Bjørndalen and Wickenheiser were elected by their peers as the newest members of the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission. Fittingly, the athletes made their way to the voting booths in record numbers -- 80.87 per cent of the 2,871 eligible athletes cast their votes. Bjørndalen received 1,087 of the votes, followed by Wickenheiser with 758.
What a way to cap an already memorable Games for both athletes. Having added another two gold medals to his Olympic treasure chest, Bjørndalen became the most-decorated Olympian in Winter Games history (8 gold, 4 silver, 1 bronze). Similarly, Wickenheiser won her fourth-straight gold medal as captain of Team Canada, adding still more clout to the argument that she is one of the world’s all-time greatest women’s hockey players.
The duo will represent the athletes as IOC members for a period of approximately eight years. The IOC Athletes’ Commission is currently composed of 22 members who are past or active Olympians. They are the voice of the athletes within the Olympic Movement, and are tasked with defending their interests. As the link between the athletes and the IOC, the Commission members are involved in all key IOC activities, including the process to evaluate candidate cities seeking to host the Olympic Games, the composition of the sports programme for the Games and the fight against doping.
The Athletes’ Commission also advises peers in the important issue of career transition and oversees the IOC Athlete Career Programme as well as the newly launched MOOC. The Commission’s chairperson, a position currently held by Claudia Bokel, also sits on the IOC Executive Board.
Learn more about the IOC Athletes’ Commission here.