London, Feb 3, 2015: Kenya’s Tegla Loroupe, the first African woman to win the New York Marathon, has been elected the newest member of the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Tegla, who is active in the field of peace and women’s rights, becomes the 48th member of the Laureus Academy, a unique collection of the world’s greatest living sportsmen and sportswomen dedicated to changing the world through the power of sport.
She said: “It is a great, great honour to be invited to join all these amazing sports legends who have achieved so much in their careers and who now want to work to improve the lives of young people around the world. When Nelson Mandela was the Patron of Laureus, he said that sport was better than anything else at bringing people together. He was right and I will be working my hardest to make that happen.”
Edwin Moses, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, said: “On behalf of all the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy I would like to welcome Tegla. She achieved great success in her sporting career and now she has become a driving force for social change in Africa through the work of the Tegla Loroupe Foundation and the creation of the peace marathons which brought communities in East Africa together.”
Laureus World Sports Academy Member Nawal El Moutawakel, a Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee and athletics legend, said: “I have known and admired Tegla Loroupe for many years. She had helped me promote the Casablanca Women’s Race and the women’s cause in Morocco by attending on a yearly bases. She has always had to fight against the odds, first to become a world-famous runner and then to fight to change society. She has many firsts to her name, particularly being the first African woman to win the New York Marathon. She is famous, of course, for setting up the peace marathons, but she has also consistently helped young children in her own part of Kenya and spoken out for women’s rights, which is something which she and I have in common. I hope this is an area in which we can work together in the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and I welcome her as an Academy Member.”
A member of the Pokot tribe, who live in northern Kenya, she had to run 10km to and from school from the age of six. She was 16 before she had her first pair of running shoes.
Tegla won the world championship for the half-marathon distance three times and was twice marathon world record holder. In addition to winning in New York twice, she also won marathons in Berlin, Boston, London, Rome and three times in Rotterdam. She was favourite to win a marathon gold medal in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, but was ill the night before the race and finished 13th.
In 2003, she created an annual series of peace marathons, sponsored by the Tegla Loroupe Foundation, involving warriors and nomadic groups in her native Kenya, Uganda and Sudan, in an effort to bring peace to an area plagued by raiding warriors from battling tribes. She has also established a school and orphanage for children from her own region of Kenya.
In 2006 she was named a United Nations sport ambassador and travelled with American actor George Clooney to Beijing, Cairo and New York on a diplomatic mission to bring an end to violence in Darfur. She is also an international ambassador for the International Association of Athletics Federations and UNICEF.
She has been an active Ambassador for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for many years. Most recently she visited International Inspiration in Tanzania, the official legacy programme of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, supported by Laureus, which has reached out to 1.3 million young people there by using physical education and sport to help develop leadership, education, work and life skills.
Tegla said: “We are very proud of the work of the International Inspiration Programme in Tanzania with the support of Laureus. The best thing about this programme has been involving government, who will now make sure that the work is sustainable and replicated in other regions in Tanzania. I saw young people with and without disabilities playing together without any discrimination. This is a perfect demonstration of the power of sport in uniting people.”
The members of the Laureus World Sports Academy volunteer their time to support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation which uses the power of sport to improve young people’s lives. Since its inception, Laureus has raised more than €60 million for projects which have helped to improve the lives of millions of young people. Currently Laureus supports more than 150 projects in 35 countries. —- Laureus