Snowboarding's first ever female Paralympic champion, the Netherland's
Bibian Mentel-Spee and Australia's super-combined bronze medalist Toby
Kane, have been named as the winners of the prestigious Whang Youn Dai
award for exemplifying the spirit of the Paralympic Games through their
performances at Sochi 2014.
The athletes will receive the award during the Closing Ceremony on
Sunday (16 March).
Mentel-Spee has been instrumental in getting snowboard into the Games
for the first time in Sochi whilst Kane has taken on a key leadership
role within the Australian team during several set-backs in the lead-up
Mentel-Spee spoke of her delight at receiving the honour:
"I am overwhelmed with the fact that I have received the award and
after winning my gold medal yesterday, this is even better."
Kane, 27, competes in the men's standing classification in alpine
skiing, which in Sochi has seen one of the most competitive fields ever
head out on the slopes of Rosa Khutor:
"I feel very proud to have been nominated by my National Paralympic
Committee and I feel very proud and humbled to be nominated for an
award about the Paralympic spirit.
"I'm very proud to have gone to three Paralympic Games, I'm a very
proud Paralympian and I really believe in sport for people with a
disability in terms of what it can show the world."
Kane and Mentel-Spee were selected from a shortlist of six nominees by
an independent panel of judges consisting of International Paralympic
Committee (IPC) Governing Board Members Andrew Parsons, Miguel Sagarra
and Duane Kale. There were 25 nominations by National Paralympic
Committee Presidents and Chef de Missions in total.
Parsons, the Vice President of the IPC, will present each athlete with
a gold medal during the Closing Ceremony which has a theme of "reaching
The Whang Youn Dai Award has been presented to one male and one female
athlete at every Paralympic Games since Seoul 1988, for overcoming
adversity and putting the spirit of the Games into motion.
Mentel-Spee was a successful able-bodied snowboarder well on her way to
qualifying for Salt Lake City 2002 before losing her leg to cancer at
the age of 27. Four months after the operation, the 41 year-old was
back on her board, becoming Dutch national champion just seven months
In addition to her life as an athlete, Mentel-Spee was an integral part
of the group of snowboarders who campaigned to include snowboard as a
sport at the Paralympic Winter Games. The Dutch rider is also a mother
and founder of the Mentelity Foundation which aims to get young people
with impairments into sport and has started a snowboard team for
athletes between the ages of 14-23.
On Friday 14 March 2014, Mentel-Spee became the first ever female
snowboarding gold medalist at a Paralympic Winter Games.
Kane has been skiing since he was five-years-old following a car
accident which led to the amputation of his lower right leg at just the
age of two. He was talent spotted at the age of 10 and became a regular
in the Australian Paralympic team by 17.
He is studying medicine, following on from his experiences with
healthcare in his early life, and is an ambassador for the Australian
Paralympic Committee, giving talks and assisting with raising the
profile of the Paralympic Movement in Australia.
Since the death of snowboarder teammate Matthew Robinson in February
2014 and other set-backs which have affected the team, Kane has stepped
into a key leadership and support role in addition to focusing on his
To see the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games schedule, results, medals
table and details of where to watch on TV, please visit
http://www.paralympic.org For details on Paralympic classification,
please visit: http://www.paralympic.org/classification