Anita DeFrantz

Week 116 (1 - 8 January 2016)

Anita DeFrantz is arguably one of the most influential women in sports administration and has worked tirelessly over three decades to promote Olympic values and further the role of women in sport. Yet the 63-year-old is not one to settle on past successes, as she made clear this week:

"2015 was a very successful year for women in sport. We have seen many extraordinary achievements on and off the field of play, and that is set to continue in this Olympic and Paralympic year. There is also a rise in the number of prominent women administrators in sport but, as Olympic Agenda 2020 highlights, there is still more that can be done in this regard."

DeFrantz is a powerful advocate for more equal representation of women in sports authorities. Articulate and bold in her opinions, she chaired the Women and Sport Commission (now known as Women in Sport) from its conception in 1995 until 2014, and was the first female Vice-President in the IOC in 1997.

2015 was a seminal year for the American as she stepped down from her role as President of the LA84 Foundation after a 28-year stint. Under DeFrantz's leadership, the LA84 Foundation, set up to manage the profits of the 1984 Los Angeles Games, has grown to serve more than three million children annually in Southern California through grant-making, research and coaching education programmes.

The dedication DeFrantz has shown to sport is rooted in an understanding of the important role of sport in society and she communicates this simply and effectively.

"We overlook it [sport] as something children do. As adults, we view it as entertainment. But there is an intrinsic value to sport, not only in teaching teamwork, it's important for our nation. It teaches a lot about our abilities to be an agent of success", DeFrantz has said.

Promoting the Olympic values has been a mainstay of DeFrantz's public profile ever since she was an athlete. In 1980, DeFrantz was one of the most outspoken athletes to take a stand against the U.S. decision to boycott the Moscow Games, with her bold and impassioned words drawing worldwide attention to U.S. athletes' desire to promote the Games above the political hostilities of the time. And for her leadership role in opposing the boycott, DeFrantz was ultimately awarded an IOC Bronze Medal of the Olympic Order.

In 2016, DeFrantz is showing no sign of slowing down in committing her voice to the sporting matters she holds dear.

Photo: IOC