The Lithuanian National Olympic Committee (NOC) honoured the winners of the Lithuanian Fair Play Awards. During the ceremony, the awards were presented to the heroes by Olympic champion, NOC President Daina Gudzinevičiūtė and the President of the Lithuanian Fair Play Committee, Olympic champion Austra Skujytė.
“Fair Play is a quality that does not require sweating in gyms or stadiums. It’s about sincere actions, the desire to help, the desire to compete fairly. Giving your time and energy to Ukraine, which is suffering from the aggressor, lending a helping hand to your opponent and even sacrificing prize places, volunteering your free time for community development – all of these are in themselves championship deeds, which are worth more than just a medal,” Olympic champion Daina Gudzinevičiūtė said in her congratulations to the ceremony participants.
For the 28th time, the NOC awards honoured the heroes of six nominations – “Lifetime Achievements”, “Fair Play 2022”, “Young Athletes or Youth Team Fair Play 2022”, “Young Athlete as an Example for Peers”, “Fair Play Project” and “Fair Play Organisation”.
The Lithuanian Swimming Federation received the award in the “Fair Play Organisation” nomination for its outstanding assistance in creating the most favourable conditions for Ukrainian athletes coming to Lithuania.
Since the beginning of the war, the organisation has been coordinating the welfare of Ukrainian swimmers coming to Lithuania, providing funds for camps, facilitating participation in official competitions in Lithuania, engaging in other activities, and setting up a hotline that has been used to contact as many as fifty swimmers coming from the Ukraine who have been and are still being provided with the assistance they need.
The initiative of Andrius Stočkus, the director of Šiauliai Sports High School and wrestling coach, to help Ukrainian athletes was recognised as the “Fair Play Project 2022”.
Andrius Stočkus did not hesitate to shelter a group of Ukrainian athletes and officially became the guardian of two Ukrainian athletes who had fled the war. The man mobilised the community of Šiauliai Sports High School into a group of volunteers, with the help of which he arranged for the reception and accommodation of the athletes from Ukraine, collected and bought the necessary items, organised and welcomed the arriving athletes and their family members. Currently, 19 athletes are staying in the school.
The “Young Athletes or Youth Team Fair Play 2022” award was given to a student of Alytus St. Benedict High School – Gabija Čepononytė, a participant of the “Lithuanian School Games”.
During the Lithuanian School Games relay race, the athlete extended a helping hand to the team leader who had fallen. The second-placed team of Gabija Čepononytė was just a few hundredths of a second short of winning the first place.
Emilija Greviškytė, a student of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, was selected and awarded the “Young Athlete as an Example for Peers” award.
The 19-year-old from Pandėlis took the initiative to become a coach of Youth Can, a programme that develops the life skills of young people in the province through sport, with no previous experience, when the departure of her former coach in Pandėlis led to the consideration of closing the programme. By becoming a peer coach at the time, she has maintained access to the opportunities offered by the programme for the youth in her town.
Vytautas Strolia, Lithuanian Olympian and biathlete, was awarded in the “Fair Play of the Year” nomination.
Vytautas Strolia narrowly missed out on the first medal of his career in the fifth round of the 2021-2022 Biathlon World Cup, which would have been the first in the history of independent Lithuania. Then he was just 1.5 seconds off the lead in the 10 km sprint. He was beaten by Antonas Smolskis. In the sixth round of the World Cup, in Antholz, he was the one who got his ski unstuck in the general start. Vytautas caught it without hesitation and handed it to his rival expertly, which allowed him to save a few or even tens of seconds.
The “Lifetime Achievements” award was presented to Irina Katinienė, a Lithuanian sports educator, sports gymnastics coach and international category judge.
The coach of two Olympians founded the sports gymnastics club “Skrydis” back in 1998, where she trained many athletes herself, and in 2011 she decided to integrate children with special needs into the joint training sessions. Driven by great enthusiasm, Irina Katiniene not only created all the conditions for the children to develop personally, but also trained athletes who won 6 prizes at the 2022 Down’s Syndrome World Championships in Ponte Di Legno, Italy.
The movement for Fair Play started in Lithuania 30 years ago. The aim of the International Committee for Fair Play is to preserve and promote respect for Fair Play and its values not only in major sports or sport for all programmes, but also in everyday life.