Q&A with Janet Evans

The Olympic swimming champion is now vice-chair and director of athlete relations for the Los Angeles bid for the 2024 Olympic Summer Games.

Janet Evans
Janet Evans

When it comes to understanding the athlete experience at a major international competition, Janet Evans knows of what she speaks. In 1987, at the age of 15, she broke world swimming records in the 400m, 800m and 1500m freestyle. At the 1988 Olympics, she won three gold medals, then followed in 1992 with another gold and a silver. At the 1996 Games she failed to medal, but nonetheless became part of Olympic history by handing the torch to Muhhamad Ali in one of the Games’ most iconic moments. Today, she is vice-chair and director of athlete relations for
the LA 2024 bid committee, and has taken on the charge of making sure athletes’ voices are heard as Los Angeles competes against Paris, Rome and Budapest.

In this interview with SportsTravel’s Jason Gewirtz, Evans discusses the role of athletes in the bid, her start in swimming and the power of the Olympic movement.

How did you get involved in the LA 2024 effort?

I was born in Southern California, I was raised here and I graduated from USC, so I’m a product of Los Angeles. In 1984, when I was 12 years old, the Games came to Los Angeles, and my parents took us to the Opening Ceremonies and the Olympics moved me. I’m a big believer in the fact that it’s great to be an Olympic champion but it’s greater to inspire others, to use your platform to bring people back into the Olympic movement, whether they are athletes, fans or spectators. I’d always been relatively involved in the sports movement in Southern California. I’d worked with past L.A. bids for a few tries we made. But I also worked in my past life with Billy Payne and his team on the Atlanta bid when I was very young, and I worked for the New York bid in 2012. So the bidding world is not foreign to me. (LA 2024 bid leader) Casey (Wasserman) called me and said, “The IOC has said they really want athletes at the heart of this bid, and we would love you to come on and make sure that athletes’ voices are heard.”

To read the rest of this Q&A in the digital edition of SportsTravel, please click here.