Los Angeles, 16th February, 2012: Zaiton Othman was awarded the International Olympics Council (IOC) Women and Sports award for Asia at the start of the two-day 5th World Conference on Women and Sport in Los Angeles, California today.
The conference held once in four years, is organised jointly by the IOC, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games which will see a range of subjects, in both plenary and dialogue sessions, associated with the efforts to strengthen women’s representation both in the field of sports and in leadership positions discussed. Over 700 delegates are attended the conference.
Themed “Together Stronger: the Future of Sport”, the two-day conference will saw high-level speakers from a variety of backgrounds in attendance. Amongst them were IOC President Jacques Rogge; the IOC’s Women and Sport Commission chairperson, Anita DeFrantz; Chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, Sebastian Coe; H.E. Marjon V. Kamara, Chair of the UN’s Commission on Status of Women, as well as Geena Davis, Academy award winning actress and founder of the Geena Davis Institute in Gender in the media.
Dato’ Low Beng Choo, the vice-president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) and chairperson of the OCM Women and Sport Committee, is attending the conference together with Zaiton, who is also a committee member of the OCM Women and Sport Committee. Beng Choo, who is a member of the IOC Women & Sport Commission, is also selected to make a presentation at the Conference, as one of the speaker-panelists, on “Setting the Pace for a Sustainable Responsibility: The Regional Agenda.”
“It is indeed an honour to see Zaiton being awarded the IOC Women and Sports award for Asia. To be awarded at the World Conference on Women and Sport which is held once in four years is even more meaningful and significant in view of the worldwide delegation attending the Conference, apart from the top officials from IOC, as compared to the other annual awards presentation ceremonies,” said Beng Choo.
Zaiton was nominated for the Asian award by the Olympic Council of Malaysia.
“It is indeed an honour to be recognised at the Asian level and to receive the award at the prestigious World Conference on Women and Sport is indeed a recognition to be remembered forever,” said Zaiton the Director of the Organizational Development and Athletes’ Affairs Department at the National Sports Council of Malaysia.
Zaiton had previously won the IOC Women and Sports Achievement Diploma in 2010 and was also the 2009 winner of the OCM Women and Sport Award.
“I thank the OCM for nominating me and the IOC for having given me the Asian award. This award is for all the women leaders in Malaysia. I am passionate about women sports as a former athlete myself and was not looking for awards. But these recognitions will only make me work even harder as I have been recognised and have to live up to the faith put in me to further promote women sports, not only in Malaysia, but also in Asia,” said Zaiton who is nicknamed “Iron Lady of Athletics” for her domination in the grueling heptathlon for over a decade from 1979 and winning medals at the Sea Games, Asian Games and Asian Track and Field championships.
Her best performance was at the 11th SEA Games in Manila in 1981 where she won 3 gold medals in the heptathlon, 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relay, creating new national records in all the three events and setting the all-time Asian best in the 4 x 400m relay. The heptathlon record set in 1981 is currently the longest standing record and is still yet to be broken in Malaysian Track & Field annals.
Besides athletics, Zaiton had also excelled in hockey, netball, softball, basketball and volleyball.
Zaiton who also won the 1982 National Sportswoman of the Year, is a trained sports psychologist and physical educationist who devotes full time to guiding, counseling and motivating youths, especially women and girls, to pursue excellence as athletes, coaches and officials.
She obtained a Bachelors Degree from University Putra Malaysia and a Masters in Physical Education (Applied Sports Psychology) from the San Diego State University, California, USA in 1992.
After her retirement from competition, she continued to be active as a coach and administrator at national level in athletics. She was appointed the Chef de Mission of the Malaysian contingent to the 4th World Women Islamic Games Tehran in 2005 and the Deputy Chef de Mission to the South East Asian Games – Bangkok, Thailand in 2007. She has also presented seminar papers and forum presentations, both in Malaysia and Asia, on women in sports, sports psychology, motivation, athlete, coach and association relation, to name few.