Olympians Joan Benoit Samuelson and Anita DeFrantz had their respective plaques unveiled at a ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during the morning of June 20.
Benoit and DeFrantz are the second and third individual women to be inducted into the Court of Honor at the Coliseum, where the columns feature plaques of people who have impacted the history of modern sports or of the Coliseum. The first, and only woman, before the inductions of Benoit and DeFrantz, was Olympian Babe Didrikson Zaharias, who won medals in the 1932 Olympics and was inducted to the Court posthumously in 1961.
Benoit won the gold medal in the inaugural women’s marathon event at the Coliseum in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and, at age 60, plans to run another marathon in Chicago this year. DeFrantz won the bronze medal for rowing in the women’s eight during the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and was the president of the LA84 Foundation for 28 years; she is currently a member of the International Olympic Committee.
The event was emceed by NBC 4 reporter Lolita Lopez, who also interviewed the two honorees onstage.
When asked how she felt before her historic race, Benoit had said that she came to L.A. as an underdog.
“I had to run my own race, right from the get go,” said Benoit.
With the addition of two new plaques, there are currently 60 plaques in the Court of Honor, including those of former President John F. Kennedy, baseball player Jackie Robinson, basketball player Jerry West, and decathlete Rafer Johnson.