Beijing: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thursday announced that Tracey Holmes, a sports broadcaster and journalist with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) is the winner of the 2021 IOC Women and Sports Awards for Oceania. She is the first journalist to ever be awarded this prestigious award. The award is a recognition of the significant contribution Holmes has made to mainstream reporting on women’s sport since 1989 and the mentorship she has provided for the next generation of women sports journalists, the IOC said.
“In 1989 I started a weekly segment on the ABC called ‘Women in Sport’, now the ABC has a 50-50 project for its coverage and the sports department is the standout performer,” Holmes said on receiving the Award. “This award is a tribute to all those women athletes and women sports administrators who persevered without money, coverage or recognition to create a world today where women in many countries can do and can be whatever they so choose.
It is also a tribute to my mother and father from whom I learned we are all equal, and it is a tribute to all those – many of the men – who freely offered their mentorship and guidance throughout my career,” Holmes added. Kevan Gosper, the honorary IOC member from Australia, who nominated Holmes for the award, said that Holmes’ commitment to gender equality and the promotion of women in sports administration has been integral to her professional work. “This is also an important acknowledgement by the IOC and the Women in Sport Commission recognizing and rewarding the essential role the media play in how women in sport are portrayed and ensuring the equal coverage of women’s sport and sportswomen by the media,” he said.
Holmes nomination was supported by a number of the IOC’s and Australia’s key sports and media personalities, such as Dr Robin Mitchell, IOC executive member and President of the Oceania National Olympic Committee, Olympians Cathy Freeman, HON Marjorie Jackson Nelson, Anita Palm and Moya Dodd, former FIFA Executive Committee member. Freeman, the Olympic and world champion 400m runner and 1998 Australian of the Year, said of Holmes: “Tracey has been a constant supporter of greater equality in sport – for the race, colour and gender – reporting on inequality when and wherever it exists.
Australian sport, and especially women’s sport, is the better for her reporting.” When asked what advice she could give to young women who would like to make a career in sport’s journalism, Holmes answered: “I think for any woman who wants to get involved in anything, whether it’s journalism, sport, politics, whatever, the biggest thing you have to have is a passion and a desire. And from that passion and from that desire comes belief.” “I think if you walk into a room and you believe in yourself, everybody else in that room will then believe in you. It’s one of the toughest things when you first start, I understand that, but I think that with passion and belief you will have an inner strength that will help you overcome all of the boundaries that people will try and put in front of you.
You find a way of overcoming them,” she added. Holmes has been a mentor and trainer with the Women in News and Sports Program (WINS) since its inception in 2016, and ABC Mentor for Indigenous Women. She has also been the broadcast mentor with the IOC’s Young Reporters Program since its inception in Singapore in 2010. “I benefited when I was a young journalist coming through from the experience of older journalists, like Les Murray, who passed on their knowledge, passion and their wisdom to me. So it has always been something that I have liked to do, sharing and mentoring others, especially young people coming through. I’ve been recognized for doing what I think we should all do anyway.
In that way, I’m a little bit humbled,” Holmes said. IOC executive member Dr Robin Mitchell also lauded Holmes and said gender balance was a major achievement of the Olympic movement in recent years. “At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 last summer, we have reached gender balance, with 48.8 per cent women competing. However, the coverage of women’s sport in our region is still vastly unrepresented in the media, as are the number of female reporters who cover sport,” said Mitchell. “Tracey Holmes is one reporter who stands out, she is acknowledged for her professional coverage of sport, and especially for her outstanding coverage and empowerment of women in sport,” he said.