POSTED: June 22nd 2017

Olympics: Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson join Court of Honor of the LA Memorial Coliseum

LA84 Foundation and LA Memorial Coliseum honor Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson © LA 2024
LA84 Foundation and LA Memorial Coliseum honor Anita DeFrantz and Joan Benoit Samuelson © LA 2024

MARISSA FLANDERS (SFC) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Two of Southern California's most lauded Olympians earned prominent commemoration plaques in the iconic LA Memorial Coliseum for their contribution to sport. 

President and CEO of the LA84 Foundation, Renata Simril; and Los Angeles (LA) County Supervisor, Mark Ridley-Thomas led ceremonies to honor Olympic medalist, Anita DeFrantz; and Olympian Joan Benoit Samuelson with plaques in the LA Memorial Coliseum's Court of Honor. The LA84 Foundation and LA Memorial Coliseum have partnered to celebrate the impact that DeFrantz and Samuelson have had on the Coliseum's growth, glory, and history. The ceremonies were also moderated by NBC4 Southern California's Lolita Lopez. Also, the Office of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas co-sponsored the event.  

"The Coliseum Court of Honor welcomes two extraordinary athletes who exemplify the Olympic spirit and paved the way for women to excel in sports at the highest level," expressed Ridley-Thomas.

Their commemoration into the Court of Honor makes them the first female athletes to gain inclusion since Babe Didrikson in 1961, who was the first women to gain the honor.

DeFrantz has a long history and vast experience with the Olympic Movement. She won a bronze medal at the 1976 Olympic Games for rowing and was a member of the 1980 United States Olympic Team. She served as the Vice President of the LA Olympic Organizing Committee and ran the Olympic Village at the University of Southern California. Later she served as the President of the LA84 Foundation and remains President Emeritus. DeFrantz was elected a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1986 and has remained one ever since. Now, DeFrantz is the Senior Advisor for the Legacy of LA 2024 aiding the bidding efforts to bring the Games back to the City of Angels.

"We all know that women's sport historically has been underreported. I'm thrilled that women's accomplishments will be celebrated at the Coliseum with these plaques," commented DeFrantz. 

In addition, Samuelson is a name that is synonymous with women's running. She was the first woman to win the inaugural Women's Olympic Marathon. She was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame in 2009. Samuelson is an experienced author and motivational speaker. Now she serves a Nike consultant and as a clinician.

President Simril stated, "We at LA84 are proud to honor not one, but two pioneering women athletes whose contributions on and off the field are nothing short of transcendent. Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz showed girls across the world how a sporting dream can spring into reality, and inspire our work every day to keep closing the gender gap in sports."

These new plaques honor two game-changers in women's sport join almost 60 that are already etched into history. LA84 continues to establish a level playing field in women's sport. LA84 leads the way in increasing the engagement and number of girls in youth sports and helping grow women's sport.  

Today, we celebrate the many women pioneers who made that moment possible while celebrating the accomplishments of women who live their dreams through access to sport," said Samuelson.

** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog

Keywords · Los Angeles · LA · LA84 · LA 2024 · IOC · Olympics · Olympic Games · Olympic bidding

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