August 01, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) In a timely boost for Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Games, the United States is getting a second member on the International Olympic Committee's ruling executive board.

Former Olympic ice hockey gold medalist Angela Ruggiero was elected as chair of the IOC's athletes' commission on Monday, a position which automatically gives her a seat on the policy-making board.

Ruggiero's term will begin at the close of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Aug. 21. She replaces Claudia Bokel, a former Olympic fencer from Germany whose four-year term is expiring.

After years without any voice at the higher echelons of the IOC, the U.S. will now have two delegates on the 15-member executive board. Ruggiero will join former rower Anita DeFrantz, who was elected as a board member in 2013.

''It is an important time within the Olympic movement and our commission has a great responsibility,'' Ruggiero said. ''I will make sure our voices aren't just heard, but that they are effective and that we empower athletes around the world to do the same.''

Ruggiero won a hockey gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, along with silver medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City and 2010 Vancouver Games, and bronze in Turin in 2006.

''We will welcome her to the IOC executive board,'' IOC President Thomas Bach said. ''I am sure that, with her determination and her great experience, she will make a huge contribution.''

Ruggiero's elevation comes at a crucial time for the U.S., with Los Angeles seeking to bring the Summer Games back to the country for the first time since Atlanta hosted the 1996 Olympics.

Los Angeles is competing against Paris, Rome and Budapest, Hungary. The IOC will select the host city in September 2017. New York and Chicago mounted failed bids for the 2012 and 2016 Games, respectively.

All four 2024 bid cities will have representatives in Rio to promote their candidacies, including French President Francois Hollande and Italian Premier Matteo Renzi. Mayor Eric Garcetti heads the 24-member Los Angeles delegation to Rio.

Until DeFrantz made it back to the executive board in 2013, the U.S. had been without a member at the top table since 2006. U.S. Olympic Committee chair Larry Probst joined the IOC as a regular member in 2013.

The 36-year-old Ruggiero, a graduate of Harvard, joined the IOC in 2010 and has served as vice chair of the athletes' commission since 2014. She also sits on the USOC's board of directors, and chaired the IOC coordination commission for the 2016 Winter Youth Games in Lillehammer.

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