Nilsen nets Olympic honour


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The International Olympic Committee’s highest award, the Olympic Order has gone to FISA’s Development Director, Thor Nilsen.

Nilsen, 77, has long been quintessential rowing. His involvement in the sport stretches back to his youth in Norway as an active rower and it has remained unwavering ever since through administrative involvement and as a coach and mentor.

As an athlete, Nilsen has rowed at the European Championships and the Olympic Games and competed in 25 national championships in his home country Norway.

Nilsen is known in the rowing community internationally for his willingness to help any athlete that wants his direction. He sees no borders in terms of nationality and has coached athletes from around the world including China, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. He is also involved with the development of rowing in new rowing nations and during Nilsen’s time as Development Director the number of nations that now have rowing programmes has nearly doubled. Medals won by athletes that Nilsen has coached tally up to approximately 40 gold medals at the championship level including eight Olympic golds.

Throughout his career Nilsen has been inextricably involved with FISA in various ways: as a member and chair of FISA’s Competitive Commission. As a member and chair of the FISA Council and as a FISA executive board member.

The impact of Nilsen on the international rowing community is immense and in the award submission for Nilsen it summed him up, “Nilsen is a man of great ethical stature. His generosity is boundless.”

The Olympic Order is the highest award of the Olympic Movement created by the International Olympic Committee. It is awarded to individuals for their contributions to the Olympic Movement. The award is decided by the Olympic Order Board made up of the IOC president ant the four IOC vice presidents.

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