Olympic Swim Champion Nancy Hogshead-Makar Named IOC Woman of the Year

Nancy Hogshead-Makar IOC Woman of the Year

MONACO – Since winning three gold medals 30 years ago at the Los Angeles Olympic Games, Nancy Hogshead-Makar has been fighting for equality in sports and increased opportunities for women in athletic endeavors. That quest earned her the International Olympic Committee’s Woman of the Year honor today during a ceremony at the IOC Session in Monaco.

Specifically, Hogshead-Makar was named the Woman of the Year for the Americas, for her “remarkable contribution to women’s participation, both on the field of play and within sports administration,” according to the announcement by the IOC. Hogshead-Makar travels the globe speaking about equal rights for women in sport and was one of the people responsible for getting Title IX instituted in the 1970s as a way to ensure a more balanced gender athletic representation at American universities. Earlier this fall, she founded Champion Women as a nonprofit designed to further her goal of giving female athletes a voice in the quest for equality.

Before her life as an attorney and face of gender equality in sports, Hogshead-Makar was part of history in the pool as a co-champion in the 100 freestyle with teammate Carrie Steinseifer at the 1984 Olympics. That was the first time an actual tie had taken place in swimming competition. She followed that up with two golds in the 400 free relay and 400 medley relay, as well as silver in the 200 individual medley.

On her Facebook page, Hogshead-Makar posted the following:

If I’d been allowed to speak, here’s what I’d have said:
“This award from you, the International Olympic Committee, is as meaningful and powerful and heart-touching and as future-giving as the day I touched the wall in 1984 to win a gold medal.

Thank you, men and women of the IOC, for your commitment to gender equity. Your position and your stand is changing the world; womens sports participation breaks down stereotypes that hold women back.

Of course there are hundreds of people I’ve worked with shoulder-to-shoulder that I’d like to thank, but in particular I’d like to thank Scott Blackmun and the USOC for nominating me, Professor Jean O’Barr for inspiring me intellectually, Anita DeFrantz for supporting me, and Donna De Varona for sparking this pursuit in my heart.

Thank you, IOC members, Mr. President, and the women’s commission – dearly.

IOC Trophy for Africa: Aya Mahmoud Medany (Egypt)
IOC Trophy for Asia: Cheikha Naïma Al-Sabah (Kuwait)
IOC Trophy for Europe: Anastasia Davydova (Russia)
IOC Trophy for Oceania: Siân Mulholland (Australia)

Another winner today with ties to swimming was Meriem Cherni Mizouni, who was awarded the World Trophy by the IOC for her work in increasing female participation in sports in her native Tunisia. The first woman to represent Tunisia at the Olympics (in 1976), she was the chair of the Women and Sport Commission in Tunisia, which not only aims to get more women into sports, but requires the organization to hire female technical advisers.