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Olympics-DeFrantz announces candidacy for IOC's top job

Olympics-DeFrantz announces candidacy for IOC's top job

Former U.S. Olympic rower Anita DeFrantz, already the most powerful woman in world sport, announced on Sunday she would run for president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July.

Speaking before Monday's start of an executive board meeting, IOC vice-president DeFrantz put her name forward for the vote in Moscow where Juan Antonio Samaranch will retire after 21 years in office.

"I have served the Olympic movement for 24 years, that's half my life," said DeFrantz, 48.

"We have a successful movement, one of my strengths is making something that is successful more successful because of my management skills."

Olympic officials said Samaranch might miss the opening day of the IOC board meeting through ill health, but was expected to attend the three-day meeting at some stage.

He was travelling first to Barcelona for a health check. DeFrantz will chair the meeting in his place.

The leading candidates in the race to succeed Samaranch are expected to be Belgian surgeon Jacques Rogge and Canadian lawyer Dick Pound who has been heavily involved in turning the Olympic Games into a successful commercial operation.

Rogge was the chief co-ordinator of last year's Sydney Games. Hungarian Pal Schmitt has indicated he would run but neither Rogge nor Pound have revealed their intentions. South Korean Kim Un Yong could also be a candidate. But asked on Sunday whether he had made a decision, he said: "I'm still thinking."

CANVASSING

DeFrantz, a bronze medallist at the Montreal Games of 1976, said she had not started canvassing IOC members to see whether she had enough support to win the presidential contest.

"My strategy is to announce my candidacy, then talk to members," she told Reuters.

In a statement from the U.S. Olympic Committee, DeFrantz said: "IOC members have the responsibility to ensure that the Olympic movement endures.

"I can do that most effectively as president of the IOC, utilising the IOC's fundamental beliefs of respect and solidarity as well as the operating principles of inclusion, transparency and accountability," she said.

DeFrantz was elected vice-president in September 1997 after joining the IOC as a member in 1986. She helped organise the Los Angeles Games in 1984.

When she became vice-president she said: "My election as a member of the IOC, to the executive board and now as vice-president proves that a woman is able to be elected to any position in the IOC.

"It proves that the Olympic movement believes in equality. It is what you bring to the table. It doesn't matter whether you are a man or a woman....There will be more women."

DeFrantz was captain of the U.S. rowing team in Montreal and won a silver medal at the 1978 world championship before taking up posts in the National Rowing Association and National Olympic Committee in the U.S.

She has a doctorate in law from the University of Pennsylvania and became a member of the IOC's executive board in 1992.


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