From left, Cristobal Gabarron, the 1992 Sport Artist of the Year; former longtime International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch; and Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich at The Atlanta Star.

The United States Sports Academy mourns the passing of former International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who passed away on Wednesday, 21 April 2010, at the age of 89 in his hometown of Barcelona, Spain.

Samaranch was the second-longest serving president in IOC history, for 21 years, from 1980 to 2001. He was succeeded by the current president, Jacques Rogge. During Samaranch’s reign the Olympics soared to unprecedented heights in popularity.

Samaranch was considered the father of the Paralympic Games. In his honor, in 2005, the Academy added Samaranch’s name to its IOC Disabled Athlete Award. The award is presented annually to an athlete with physical or cognitive disabilities who displays courage, desire and athletic ability in the face of adversity to achieve the goals set forth in the athlete’s particular arena of competition.

Samaranch and Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich shared a close friendship.

“He was a good friend. We shared a strong common interest in the arts, and we had two favorite artists, in (Spanish maestro) Cristobal Gabarron and (Swiss painter) Hans Erni,” said Rosandich. “The Academy lost a good friend.”

Samaranch wrote the Foreward for an Academy publication, “The Atlanta Star — An Olympic Forest, A Study in Olympism: History, Art, Culture and Science 1896-1996.” The book was released in conjunction with the 1996 Games in Atlanta which featured The Atlanta Star, a large design that consisted of 26 pillars, representing each Olympiad since 1896, the year the Modern Olympics began. The book featured the Olympic works of Gabarron, the 1992 American Sport Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) Sport Artist of the Year.