Canberra, May 6 (IANS) Long-reigning President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) John Coates was re-elected on Saturday, seeing off his first challenger for the position in 27 years.

Coates, who assumed the AOC presidency in 1990, won 58 to 35 against Danni Roche, an Olympic hockey gold medallist, at the AOC’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday, reports Xinhua news agency.

It was the first time Coates, who is also the Vice President (VP) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), had faced an election in his reign as President.

Coates briefly thanked the AOC members, made up of the governing bodies of Australian Olympic sports, upon the announcement of the result.

“Thank you very much for the confidence you’ve shown in me. Thank you,” Coates told the AGM.

Roche said that the election was a “pivotal moment in Australian sport” despite her loss.

“We have started a much-needed conversation about the future of Australian sports, and the responsibility the AOC has in supporting its member sports and athletes,” she told reporters on Saturday.

“There is certainly strong desire for change. There is a desire for the AOC to place a greater focus on providing their sports and athletes and for it to have a more collaborative relationship with the national federations and the Australian Sports Commission (ASC).”

Coates’ allies Ian Chesterman and Helen Brownlee were elected to the two Vice President spots ahead of Roche supporter Andrew Plympton.

The election brings to an end to a bitter campaign in which Coates right-hand-man, Mike Tancred, was accused of bullying.

Tancred stepped down from his role as AOC media director in April pending the result of an investigation into the bullying claims made by former AOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fiona De Jong.

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