IN PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA
Kenyan broadcast journalist Evelyn Watta has been elected vice president of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) at the global organisation's annual congress in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Watta, a former NTV sports editor, received the highest percentage of the vote at 90.8 per cent among six candidates fighting for four slots at the 80th congress of the AIPS on Friday in the ski resort city that will host next year's Winter Olympic Games.
Italian journalist Gianni Merlo, a veteran of Milan sports daily Gazetta dello Sport, was elected unopposed as president of the global sports journalists' association with Turkey's Esat Yilmaer and Croatia's Jura Olmec also unopposed as first vice president and treasurer, respectively.
Others elected as vice presidents besides Watta were Hiji Ali Mohammed (Qatar), Nikolai Dolgopolov (Russia) and Daras Ioannis (Greece).
There were 13 journalists elected into the executive committee including Ahmadi Seyed Abdolhamid (Iran), Csisztu Zsusza (Hungary), Dattoli Vicente (Brazil), Emmanuel Fantaneanu (Romania), Jung Hee-Don (South Korea) and Isa Ahmad Khawari (Malaysia).
Others are Josef Langer (Austria), Jean Paul Savart (France), Morad Moutaouakkil (Morocco), Ernesto Ortiz Gomez (Uruguay), Antonio Prieto Juan (Spain), Hiroshi Takeuchi (Japan) and Jose Zidar (Slovenia).
Watta told 'Nation Sport' she was excited at being elected, noting that this was proof that Kenyan sports journalism is alive and kicking.
"This is a great honour for women sports journalists and also for young sports journalists. I'm honoured and the hard work now begins," said Watta who becomes the first African to be elected vice president of the near-100 years old global organisation and also only the second woman ever to sit in the executive as vice president.
"It also goes to show that Kenyan sports journalism is high up there with the rest of the world," added Watta who is also the treasurer of the Sports Journalists' Association of Kenya (SJAK).
In his acceptance speech, Merlo called for global sports journalists to unite and tackle the problems that lay on their professional paths.
Among the issues raised during the 80th annual congress of the AIPS was the fact that some international sports federations still don't recognise the AIPS press cards during accreditation for their competitions.
Kenya was also represented at the congress by SJAK president Chris Mbaisi, secretary Mike Okinyi and organising secretary Vereso Mwanga.
Global journalists attending the annual congress were also brought up to speed on Nairobi's preparations for the IAAF World Under-18 Championships that will be held in Kasarani from July 12 to 16 at the Moi International Sports Centre.
Already, some journalists have show interest in covering the Nairobi championships, including a good number from Sri Lanka, India, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Nigeria, The Gambia and a number of European countries.
The championships’ Local Organising Committee along with the Kenya Tourism Board will arrange tours to game reserves, national parks and other attractions for a select group of international journalists who will cover the Nairobi championships.
IAAF President Seb Coe also addressed the delegates, stressing the need for athletics promotion in schools.
"You want top class athletes who can encourage and excite young people to take up the sport and they are the role models and they are the people who can attract others to shop window," Coe said in Seoul during the congress' opening.
"But for that to happen, you also need young people involved in the sport in the first place and for the sport to be encouraged through schools."
The AIPS executive committee for 2017-2022:
Gianni Merlo (President) Italy
Esat Yilmaer (First Vice President) Turkey
Jura Ozmec (Treasurer) Croatia
Evelyn Watta (Kenya)
Hiji Ali Mohammed (Qatar)
Nikolai Dolgopolov (Russia),
Daras Ioannis (Greece)
Ahmadi Seyed Abdolhamid (Iran)
Csisztu Zsusza (Hungary)
Dattoli Vicente (Brazil)
Emmanuel Fantaneanu (Romania)
Jung Hee-Don (South Korea)
Isa Ahmad Khawari (Malaysia)
Josef Langer (Austria)
Jean Paul Savart (France)
Morad Moutaouakkil (Morocco)
Ernesto Ortiz Gomez (Uruguay)
Antonio Prieto Juan (Spain)
Hiroshi Takeuchi (Japan)
Jose Zidar (Slovenia)