The Summer Olympics in London are still a few months away, but anticipation is already beginning to build. Hundreds of delegates from around the world came to Los Angeles this week to talk about ways to involve more women in the games.
“Am I awake or is this a dream?” asks Anita DeFrantz modestly, after Olympic VIPs praise her work as chair of the International Olympic Committee's Women and Sport Commission.
For decades, DeFrantz has worked to empower women and girls to engage in sports programs and the Olympics — not just as athletes, but as top decision-makers.
“We hope that the last three national Olympic committees that have never had women will have women for the London games," says DeFrantz. "And I think that we will be able to stand tall as the leader of the Olympic movement on behalf of women throughout the world.”
DeFrantz also runs the nonprofit LA84, a foundation that supports young athletes across Southern California.
She says she’s proud that for the first time, women are competing in every Olympic category this summer, including boxing.
The ultimate goal is for women to make up half of all athletes competing in Olympic categories.
That would be a far cry from the 1984 games in Los Angeles, when female athletes made up just a quarter of the contenders. In the Beijing games four years ago, that number was 40 percent.
The Women and Sport Conference of the International Olympic Committee runs through Saturday at the downtown L.A. Marriott.