Singlemindedness keeps De Frantz on Olympics track
Princeton, N.J. — Among the Olympic hopefuls continuing rigorous preparation for a competition which might not take place is Anita DeFrantz, who won a bronze medal at Montreal in 1976 as a member of the US women's rowing team.
"We're not being allowed to participate in a decision that is centralm to our lives," she says of President Carter's insistence that the US not send a team to Moscow this summer. "This is a democracy!"
Certainly for Anita DeFrantz the Olympics are central to her life. A lawyer with a degree from the University of Pennsylvania, DeFrantz has put her professional life temporarily on a back burner to train full time at Princeton for a place on the 28-member 1980 Olympic women's rowing team.
She took a $10,000 pay cut when she began work at Princeton University, serving as an intern in the dean's office and a pre-law adviser and dorm counselor, which allows her to use the school's boating and athletic facilities.
"The people who train for the Olympics are probably the most patriotic people around. We've given our all for the chance to represent the US in world competition," DeFrantz says. "But now, for the athletes even to say, 'Let's stop and think about this decision,' makes us traitors."
For Anita, training involves a minimum of 4 to 5 hours a day, six days a week. She works with five other world class female rowers also currently trainining in Princeton. The regimen includes a half hour early morning run, 1 1/2 to 2 hours' practice on the water twice a day, and regular weight lifting.
DeFrantz rowed in the eight-oared shell in '76, but is now training for the pairs, which she likes because "it's the ultimate in terms of working with someone else."
As a member of the US Olympic Committee board, the Athletes' Advisory Council , the President's Council on Physical Fitness, and the organizing committee for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, DeFrantz has not hesitated to make public her feelings about the administration's continued strong stance against going to Moscow.
"The effort to find alternative competition for us is a failure already," DeFrantz claims. "It's like saying to Jimmy Carter after he campaigned and was elected, 'Well, we're not going to make you President of the United States, but we'll be happy to make you President of Plains, Ga.!"
Anita DeFrantz recalls that she had no interest in sports as a child. "I grew up in the Midwest," she says. "There were no athletics for girls there."
However, as a freshman at Connecticut College, she began playing basketball, and then switched to crew the next year. Although she was thrown off the team her senior year due to "a poor attitude," DeFrantz says she knew even then that "crew was something I wanted to do seriously."
"Sports are very important to a society," Anita comments. "You can get a good feeling for the physical and emotional state of a society by looking at their sports." This is one reason she feels it is more important than ever for the US to participate in the Olympics this summer.
"The Olympics are a symbol of peace," she explains. "They create a kind of world folklore in a way that nothing else can. I think it would be a shame for the US not to be a part of the latest chapter of this folklore. In the long run this failure to participate only hurts the American people."
Last year DeFrantz began work on a PhD in Peace Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Lack of funds forced her to quit, but her thesis was to be "The Impact of Amateur Sports on World Order."
Whatever the outcome of the Olympics, Anita DeFrantz is not sure of ever returning to her law career. "I have my doubts about law," she confesses. "Sports is so much more satisfying. Nothing else is quite as immediatem as sports. I think I might take up fencing."