A PROFESSOR at Brunel University and a leading campaigner for the protection of child athletes was made an OBE in the New Year Honours list.
Prof Celia Brackenridge worked as director of the Centre for Youth Sport and Athlete Welfare for five years until 2010. She is now research professor and a member of the Brunel Centre for Sport, Health and Wellbeing.
The 61-year-old from Tring, Hertfordshire, is also chair of the Local Organising Committee for the 2012 International Convention on Science, Education and Medicine in Sport, the global scientific conference that precedes each summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Prof Brackenridge welcomed the honour, for services to equality and child protection in sport. "This came as a complete bolt from the blue," she said.
"This award is also for all the people who have helped me, who include the NSPCC and my research colleagues."
She is proud that her work has raised the issue of the abuse and sexual abuse of child athletes into and that there is now an official policy to protect them.
"It's difficult for an athlete to talk about their negative experiences. Every Olympics puts pressure on athletes to win medals, and the government is hoping for great things from the UK teams.
"It's important that coaches treat the athletes as people first and foremost, and as potential medal-winners second."
Prof Brackenridge, a founder member of the Women's Sports Foundation, was an early campaigner for gender equality in sport, an issue with which she feels far less progress has been made.
"The 10 contenders for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year did not include one single woman and we get much less media coverage. The media feel that looks are more important than achievement.
"There is still a long way to go."
Colleagues at Brunel University, in Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, have congratulated Prof Brackenridge on her achievement.
Professor Ian Rivers said: "It is a testament to Celia's ground-breaking and tireless efforts in promoting the protection of young people in sport.
"This is a very proud moment for us in sport sciences, to have a colleague recognised by the Crown for her contribution nationally and internationally."