Bibian Mentel-Spee

Olympic Person of the Month December 2021

As we look towards the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, the European Olympic Academies has chosen to feature winter sport athlete Bibian Mentel-Spee as the December Olympic Person of the Month.

During an illustrious career representing the Netherlands for over two decades, Mentel-Spee won three Paralympic gold medals and 5 World Championship gold medals in para snowboarding events. The Dutch athlete had been due to compete at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games before undergoing a leg amputation to treat bone cancer in 2001.

Subsequently, Mentel-Spee lobbied for the inclusion of snowboarding events at the Paralympics and was honoured with the Courage Award at the 2015 Paralympic Sport and Media Awards in recognition of her tireless efforts to achieve this. Her vision finally became reality when snowboarding was introduced at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Games.

Mentel-Spee won numerous prestigious awards during her impressive career including the Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award at the 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, which is awarded to the athlete who best exemplifies the Olympic spirit and inspires and excites people around the world. In the Netherlands, she was named 2014 Paralympic Athlete of the Year by the Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) and was appointed a Knight of the Order of Orange-Nassau in 2012.

Beyond her competitive career, Mentel-Spee held an International Master’s degree in Sport Management and coached athletes in the national team. In 2012, she founded the Mentelity Foundation which advocates participation in disability sport.

Mentel-Spee retired from competition in 2018 and passed away aged 48 in March 2021 following a long battle with cancer. The EOA has selected her as Olympic Person of the Month because her life and career embraced the philosophy of Olympism; she demonstrated that joy can be found in striving to be the best you can be and advocated for the inclusion of young people through sport without any kind of discrimination.

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