By Chrös McDougall | Jan. 01, 2020, 2:16 p.m. (ET)
Alana Nichols (L) and Elana Meyers Taylor speak during the Women's Sports Foundation's 40th Annual Salute to Women in Sports Awards Gala on Oct. 16, 2019 in New York.

 

Alana Nichols begins the new year with a big new task in front of her. The five-time U.S. Paralympian starts today as the 18th president of the Women’s Sports Foundation.

Nichols, a gold medalist at both the summer and winter Paralympic Games, takes over for Elana Meyers Taylor, the U.S. Olympic bobsled medalist who has held the role since last January.

Alana (pronounced ah-LAY-nuh) said she’s eager to continue the work of Elana (pronounced ah-LAH-nuh).

“Elana Meyers Taylor is top notch,” Nichols said in a video released by the WSF. “She’s bought so much professionalism here as an athlete and as a president, kind of brought us together, unified us athletes to really make an impact on an athletic front, and I hope to do the same.”

Nichols, who competed in all five Paralympics between 2008 and 2016, summer and winter, began as a wheelchair basketball player in Beijing and London before competing in paracanoe in Rio. Between those she competed as a downhill skier in Vancouver and Sochi.

Along the way she won six medals, three of them gold — once in basketball, twice in skiing.

Nichols becomes only the second Paralympian to hold the role as WSF president, following track and field athlete Aimee Mullins, who held the role in 2007-08.

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Founded by tennis icon Billie Jean King in 1974, the Women’s Sports Foundation works to “advance the lives of women and girls through sports and physical activity.” The foundation provides support to girls’ and women’s sports through the funding of athletes, research, education and other means.

Since 1979, prominent sportswomen have served as president, with each serving one-year terms in recent years. Nichols follows women such as swimmer Donna de Varona, the organization’s first president, as well as soccer player Julie Foudy (2001-02), gymnast Dominique Dawes (2005-06), softball player Jessica Mendoza (2009-10) and ice hockey player Angela Ruggiero (2013-14).

Meyers Taylor, a two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medalist in bobsled, is taking off the 2019-20 season while pregnant with her first child.

“I could not have chosen a better year to be president of this organization, because women’s sport is just growing and adapting and changing and in all good ways,” she said in the same WSF video. “Yes, we’ve got some things we still need to work on, but we continue to push the boundaries and really fight for gender equity in a lot of different ways.”

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.