Figure Skating In Harlem Recognized With IOC Women And Sport Award

by Bob Reinert

Members of Figure Skating In Harlem enter into a formation during on of their performances. 


For its quarter-century of work helping empower girls of color through sport, Figure Skating In Harlem was recognized as one of six winners of the 2021 Women and Sport Awards presented by the International Olympic Committee today during the 139th IOC Session in Beijing.
The annual awards are given to men, women and organizations who advance gender equality on and off the playing fields.
Representing the Americas, Figure Skating in Harlem was one of five continental recipients along with Natsiraishe Maritsa of Zimbabwe (Africa), Zhang Xia of China (Asia), Kari Fasting of Norway (Europe) and Tracey Holmes of Australia (Oceania).
Hashimoto Seiko, a seven-time Olympian for Japan and more recently the president of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, was presented the World Award.

Young participants pose for a photo during of one of Figure Skating In Harlem's programs.


A New York-based nonprofit, Figure Skating in Harlem has combined sport and education to positively influence girls of color for the past 25 years. It seeks to help them acquire the academic, social and leadership skills they will need to succeed in life.
FSH uses three figure skating programs to annually reach 275 girls, many from low-income families. The organization recently expanded its programs to Detroit.
“FSH began more than two decades ago with a vision to empower young girls in the Harlem community,” said founder and CEO Sharon Cohen on the organization’s website. “Our hope is that through each student’s experience, she will graduate our program as a powerful speaker, effective leader, and global citizen. As we expand in Detroit, we hope to bring the benefits of our model education and skating based program to even more children!”
In a Twitter post, U.S. Figure Skating commended FSH’s “work to empower racial equity, leadership and encouraging young girls to achieve their dreams on and off the ice!”



Since the award’s inception in 2000, 128 recipients from 67 countries have been honored. Winners are eligible for grants to support and further their important work. This year’s recipients were chosen from a shortlist of 26 candidates put forward by the IOC Women in Sport Commission.

IOC President Thomas Bach and Chair of the IOC Women in Sport Commission Lydia Nsekera presented the winners’ awards at the session.

“One of the highlights of the success story of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was that these were the most gender-balanced Olympic Games in history,” Bach said. “We, the IOC, could ensure this by allocating the respective quota and qualification systems. This gives me the opportunity to thank our International Federations for their great cooperation in achieving this milestone.

“This sent a powerful signal that the Olympic Games are always about bringing all people together without any discrimination: regardless of gender, race, background, religion or political belief. This commitment to inclusion and universality gives sport the power to challenge social norms and set the tone for social change. For all these reasons, a key mission of the IOC is to promote women in sport at all levels.”

Bob Reinert spent 17 years writing sports for The Boston Globe. He also served as a sports information director at Saint Anselm College and Phillips Exeter Academy. He is a contributor to on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.