Helen Brownlee has dedicated her life to the sport of canoeing and has been involved in shaping its progress internationally and at home in Australia for well over thirty years.
As a teenager Helen competed in flatwater, wildwater and slalom racing. After collecting medals at both State and National levels Helen’s interest focused on slalom and in its officiating and administration. Her service to the cause spanned decades, including her position ad Official Judge for the slalom races at the 1972 Munich Olympics and as a flatwater Finish Line Judge at the Seoul Olympics.
Helen broke new ground for women in the administration of the sport when in 1976 she was elected to the ICF Slalom and Wildwater Committee, the first woman to do so. Progressing through the ranks, she became the ICF Member for Oceania in 1988 and took her place on the ICF Board of Management. She holds these positions today and in 2002 received the IOC Women & Sport Trophy for Oceania in recognition of “her outstanding contribution to the promotion of women in sport.”
Helen has also contributed to canoesport at home in Australia and has been recognized for those contributions. She has served as the Vice President and President of the Australian Canoe Federation, as a Delegate to the Australian Olympic Committee, Olympic Planning and Review Committee and New South Wales Olympic Council, and has received the Order of Australia Medal and the
“Helen has made a major contribution to the success of the Sydney 200 Olympic Games and to the organization of Canoeing here in Australia and internationally,” said AOC President John Coates. He has praised Ms. Brownlee’s role in Olympic Education particularly in relation to school children. “She is one of the driving forces behind the Pierre De Courbertin Awards which reward fair play and excellence among students in schools throughout Australia,” Coates said. The Sydney Games achieved the highest level of female participation ever, which was significant as it coincided with the 100th anniversary of women’s participation in the Olympic Games.