United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Director-General designates Mr Virgilijus Alekna of Lithuania as UNESCO Champion for Sport

On 23 November 2007, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, designated Mr Virgilijus Alekna, world-famous discus thrower and athlete from Lithuania as UNESCO Champion for Sport.

Mr Valdemaras Sarapinas, Chancellor of the Government of Lithuania, Mr Algirdas Raslanas, Director of the Department of Physical Education and Sports of the Government of Lithuania, and Mrs Ina Marčiulionytė, Permanent Delegate of Lithuania to UNESCO, were also present at the designation ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters.

Mr Alekna has a long and distinguished sports career that has been crowned by the highest titles in the discus throwing competition, notably two Olympic gold medals (2000 and 2004), two-time World Champion (2003 and 2005), three-time World Athletic Final Champion (2003, 2004, and 2005), and European Champion (2006). He has undertaken numerous humanitarian activities over the years through the Virgilijus Alekna Club, which aims to foster and improve education in the field of sport and professional training. Mr Alekna has also been involved in the education of young athletes in the framework of the Lithuanian Olympic Education Programme.

The Director-General paid tribute to these initiatives in his address at the designation ceremony. He noted that “physical education and sport is an essential component of quality education since it contributes to both the mental and physical development of children. Sport also teaches youth the concepts of fair-play ad moral equity.”

During his address Mr Matsuura recalled that Lithuania had always actively promoted UNESCO’s role in the area of sports and peace, and expressed his deep appreciation to Mr Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania, and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, for his continuous support to UNESCO’s activities, notably in promoting knowledge societies.

As he conferred the title, the Director-General stated: “Mr Alekna, your endeavours prove that you are a true supporter of UNESCO’s aims and ideals. I am sure that in your capacity as UNESCO Champion for Sport you will continue to be a model for the younger generations and promote our shared values and ideals.”

UNESCO will work together with Mr Alekna for the promotion of physical education and sport in educational systems, and for advocating the importance of education, moral and human values. More specifically, as UNESCO Champion for Sport, Mr Alekna will collaborate with the Organization to raise awareness on the importance of physical education as a compulsory subject in school curricula and in achieving quality education, which is in line with the recommendations of the 34th session of the General Conference.

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Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 181-2007 -  Publication Date: 26-11-2007

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