Senator Janet Nguyen Announces Official Renaming of Long Beach Bridge after Olympian Joan Lind Van Blom

Friday, August 5, 2016

As millions around the world gather to celebrate the opening ceremony of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Senator Janet Nguyen is proud to announce that the California State Legislature has approved Senate Concurrent Resolution 102 (SCR 102) authorizing the renaming of a bridge in Long Beach after Joan Lind Van Blom, the first woman to win an Olympic medal in rowing for the United States. To further honor her legacy, plans are also underway to host a public ceremony officially dedicating the bridge in honor of the longtime Long Beach resident.

“From the Olympic stage to the classroom, Joan Lind Van Blom was a woman who displayed great courage and a commitment to uplift her country and community,” said Senator Janet Nguyen. “The renaming of this bridge is a small token of appreciation for her decades of contributions as an Olympian and educator. I am proud that the California State Legislature has chosen to honor her legacy.” 

Senator Nguyen introduced SCR 102 at the request of The Long Beach Century Club, a non-profit organization founded in 1957 by a group of prominent Long Beach sports enthusiasts dedicated to the promotion of amateur athletics in the city. In recognition for her contributions to the sports community, Joan Lind Van Blom was inducted into the Long Beach Century Club’s Hall of Fame in 1996. 

"The Long Beach community greatly appreciates Senator Nguyen's efforts in renaming the bridge after a Long Beach Olympic icon,” said the Honorable Gary Delong, former Long Beach Councilmember and member of the Long Beach Century Club. 

To celebrate this momentous occasion, Senator Janet Nguyen, the City of Long Beach, Caltrans and the Long Beach Century Club are planning to host a ceremony to officially rename the bridge located on State Highway Route 1, south of Loynes Drive and north of East Second Street. Thanks to the generosity of the Long Beach Century Club and Long Beach City Councilmembers Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw and Dee Andrews, plans are also underway to purchase permanent signage displaying the bridge’s new name.

“Joan Lind Van Blom is one of the most remarkable athletes to ever live and was even more impressive for her dedication to her Long Beach community. Having a bridge in east Long Beach named after her will serve as a daily reminder of the positive legacy she has left behind,” said Councilwoman Suzie Price.

In addition to being the first woman to win an Olympic medal in rowing for the United States at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Joan Lind Van Blom also won a silver medal in the quadruple sculls at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. She was also a member of the 1980 Olympic team that boycotted the Moscow Games.

Following her Olympic career, Joan Lind Van Blom excelled in the field of education, motivating students to live healthy and active lives during her 35-year career with the Long Beach Unified School District as a physical education teacher and curriculum leader. She would continue to advocate for rowing and healthy lifestyles until her passing on August 28th, 2015 after years of battling an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“The bridge to be renamed has a special significance as Joan rowed under it countless times during her remarkable career. It is only fitting that from now forward this bridge carries the name of a woman who touched the lives of many Long Beach residents,” said Senator Janet Nguyen.