A spectacular painting by Parisa Parsa Baro, a recent graduate of Lausanne's Ecole romande d'arts et de communication (ERACOM) has been selected as the prize for the first-ever European Athletics Women's Leadership Awards.
Baro's dynamic depiction of athletic movements and the strength of women was chosen from proposals submitted by six female ERACOM students.
A signed lithograph of the painting was given by European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz to the overall winner Thordis Lilja Gisladottir of Iceland at the European Athletics Awards Night presented by Mondo in Budapest on 17 October.
Signed and numbered copies will be given to the 23 other winners in national ceremonies.
"Our idea is to recognise each national winner with the same piece of art, which will symbolically link the winners in an elite club or network that we hope will be active into the future," says Christian Milz, Director General of European Athletics.
Baro was born in Tehran, Iran, where she grew up and studied graphic art at a local university. She came to Switzerland in 1999 and completed her studies at ERACOM. She is now working as a freelance designer and graphic artist.
By nature, artists are driven by their experiences in life and expressions of their emotions. Explaining that she, like many young women in her native country, was not allowed by society to take part in and enjoy athletics or other sports, Baro says that her painting was inspired by her interest in nature and by the strength shown in the movements of athletics.
"The movements shown were not possible in my situation," she says.
"Parisa's painting is a story in itself," says Milz. "It is a perfect complement to our awards, which are designed to raise awareness about issues related to our sport's value of gender equity and how athletics can contribute everyone's quality of life."
Although she has watched athletics on television, Baro has never seen a top-level competition in person, something she hopes to rectify in 2010 by attending the Athletissima meeting in Lausanne.
Speaking of her career plans Baro said: "The project has been a motivation for the participating students and having my painting selected as the prize by European Athletics is significant for me. I am sure this recognition is going to help me build up my business."