“Sports is a birthright. It’s for everybody. Therefore, everyone should have access” – Anita DeFrantz.
The LA84 Foundation hosted more than 80 members of the Olympic and sporting community on Wednesday evening to celebrate the release of DeFrantz’s new memoir, My Olympic Life. An LA84 President Emeritus, newly elected IOC Vice President, LA 2028 Senior Advisor for Legacy, and 1976 Olympic rowing medalist, DeFrantz shared her wide range of experiences and the book’s writing process, with co-author Josh Young, in a discussion with ESPN reporter Shelley Smith. The topics ranged from her heartbreak at not being able to compete in 1980 due to the United States’ Olympic boycott, to her role as vice president of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, and onto her experiences as an IOC member and during her 28 years as president of the LA84 Foundation.
DeFrantz has been a lifelong advocate for equality in sports, fighting for youth to have opportunities to play sports. Before her 45-minute discussion and Q&A with Smith, DeFrantz was introduced by Penelope Gallardo, a young woman who was one of the very first participants in RowLA, an LA84 Foundation grantee, and became inspired when she met DeFrantz at a Learn To Row Day event in 2011.
LA84 President & CEO Renata Simril, DeFrantz’s successor, also spoke on the impact and inspiration DeFrantz had on her as she took over stewardship of the foundation. “I stand on the shoulders of greatness,” Simril said. A number of Olympians also attended in support of DeFrantz, including four-time Olympic gold medalist swimmer John Naber, 1984 swimming Olympian John Moffet, 1992 volleyball Olympian Lori Ogren, five-time cycling and speedskating Olympian Connie Paraskevin and 1972 soccer Olympian Hugo Salcedo.
About My Olympic Life
In My Olympic Life, readers will journey with an African-American youngster from racially-charged and segregated Indianapolis in the 1950s and ’60s, who went to a high school with no sports for girls, as she grows up to be a member of the first women’s U.S. Olympic rowing team and wins a bronze medal in the 1976 Montréal Olympic Games. They will then see how her Olympic experience galvanized her to become an active member in national and international sport and Olympic organizations, including becoming the first woman vice president of both FISA (the International Rowing Federation) and the International Olympic Committee.
Her story is more than a civil rights and sporting victory for one person. It reveals how with grit, determination and passion, one person can change the game positively for all.
The book can be purchased on Amazon.