Yesterday, 23 October 2002, the late Sir Peter Blake was honoured by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with the presentation by His Majesty King Constantine of the IOC Olympic Order, which was accepted by Lady Pippa Blake.
Attended by close friends, colleagues and representatives from the sports world, the presentation took place at Emsworth Sailing Club in Hampshire, Great Britain, where Peter and Pippa first met.
The IOC Executive Board announced the posthumous awarding of the IOC Olympic Order, which is one of the IOC's highest honours, at their Executive Board meeting on 12 December 2001. The Olympic Order was awarded to pay tribute to Sir Peter Blake's outstanding sailing career and to his genuine passion for sport and adventure.
In over 40 years of sailing, Peter competed in five Whitbread Round-the-World Races, including the first ever held in 1973, taking glory in 1989/90 when he won the prestigious race on board `Steinlager 2'. This victory included setting an unprecedented record clean sweep with line honours on each of the six legs. In 1994 he captured the Jules Verne Trophy with a record-breaking non-stop voyage on ENZA, before what was unquestionably his greatest achievement in 1995, America's Cup Victory. New Zealand became only the second country in 145 years to take this prestigious trophy from the Americans. In 2000, Sir Peter and Team New Zealand made history again by becoming the first non-American team to successfully defend the Auld Mug. In between Peter successfully competed in numerous other ocean races.
In 1994, ISAF awarded Peter and Robin-Knox Johnston the inaugural ISAF World Sailor of the Year Award in recognition of their Jules Verne Trophy success.
In 1995, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the sport of sailing.
In 2000, Sir Peter formed `Blake Expeditions' with the aim to educate and encourage people to protect life in, on and around the sea in those parts of the world which are key to the planet's ecosystem. It was on Sir Peter's second voyage on `Seamaster' in the Amazon that he was tragically killed.
His Majesty King Constantine, Honorary Member of the IOC and President of Honour of the International Sailing Federation, made the presentation on behalf of the IOC and in dedicating the Order to the late Sir Peter said:
"Sir Peter was an incredibly impressive man. Through his sheer skill and determination, he had succeeded at the top of our sport. He was a man who inspired people, sailors and non-sailors alike.
He was an international sailing hero and an icon, whose name was synonymous with leadership, integrity and commitment.
Peter's death was a tragic and grave loss. But his sailing achievements, his environmental projects and his outstanding character will live on. He was a gentleman."
Pippa, Lady Blake, accepting the award on her late husband's behalf, responded:
"It is a great tribute to Peter and a great honour to be receiving the Order for him. Though not an Olympic sailor himself, Peter was an Olympian in spirit both in his yacht racing and his sailing adventures. He always seemed to inspire a great team around him and I am sure this had much to do with that Olympic spirit which he seemed to embody."
Whilst non-Olympians have in the past received the Olympic Order, it is unusual for this prestigious award to be given to a non-Olympian and illustrates the international regard beyond the sport of sailing is which Sir Peter Blake is held.
The Olympic Order is awarded to recognise an individual who has demonstrated the Olympic ideal through his action, has achieved remarkable merit in the sports world, or has rendered outstanding services to the Olympic cause, either through his own personal achievement or his contribution to the development of sport. Among the personalities who have received the Olympic Order are Fanny Blankers-Koen, Jean-Claude Killy, Betrand Piccard, Jesse Owens, Steffi Graf, Alberto Tomba, Indira Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Copyright and Royalty Free images from the Presentation are available from Matt Homes, Allsport:
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