Nela Lopusanova named Piotr Nurowski Prize winner at EOC Seminar in Paris
12 May 2023
Slovakia’s young ice hockey star Nela Lopusanova was crowned the winner of the eighth Winter Piotr Nurowski Prize at a Gala Dinner following the first day of the 43rd European Olympic Committees (EOC) Seminar in Paris.
Lopusanova received over 40% of the vote to claim the prestigious prize. The award is recognition of a hugely successful season for the Slovakian. She won player of the tournament for her outstanding performances for Slovakia’s silver medal-winning team at the Winter EYOF Friuli Venezia Giulia 2023. She then went on to be named the Most Valuable Player in the U18 World Championships after leading the tournament in scoring with nine goals and twelve points. Despite being just 15 years old, Nela already plays in the top flight of women’s ice hockey in Slovakia.
EOC President Spyros Capralos praised Nela for her stunning form and paid tribute to the other four finalists, Mia Brookes (GBR), Erik Canovi (ITA), Oleksandra Merkushyna (UKR) and Nina Pinzarrone (BEL) for their performances during the 2022/23 winter sport season.
President Capralos said: “Congratulations to Nela for winning this prestigious prize, voted for by the 48 European National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in attendance at the 43rd Seminar.
“Your performances over the past year have earned you this award and it is clear you have a bright future ahead of you.
“All five finalists should be very proud of their achievements and I am sure that we will see them excel in their respective sports over the next decade and more.”
Nela Lopusanova said: “It is an honour just to have been shortlisted for the award and to be here in Paris, but to win is an incredible feeling and I am so proud”.
Slovakia NOC Secretary General Jozef Liba said: “It is always great for an NOC to have such a young talented athlete who can be a future star. Last year we had another ice hockey player shortlisted and he went on to be drafted to the NHL. We want to wish Nela all the best as she fulfils her dreams to become the best player she can and being just 15 she has so much in front of her”.
In addition to the Piotr Nurowski Prize trophy, Nela Lopusanova takes home a EUR 15,000 training scholarship, with runner-up Oleksandra Merkushyna receiving EUR 8,000 and EUR 5,000 going to third-place finisher Mia Brookes. Fourth and fifth-placed Erik Canovi and Nina Pinzarrone both received EUR 3,000.
The EOC Piotr Nurowski Prize for Best European Young Athlete was created in 2011 in memory of Piotr Nurowski, the former President of the Polish Olympic Committee.
The annual prize is awarded to up-and-coming young athletes, who have showcased not only outstanding sporting achievements but also exceptional conduct on and off the field of play.
Through Nurowski’s example and his memory, the award encourages young athletes to pursue their career in elite sports and encourages future generations to adopt exceptional conduct on and off the field of play. Click here for a list of former prize recipients.