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OLYMPICS – 1984 LOS ANGELES, U.S.A.
Written By: TERRY BAKER
*Click images below to view larger versions.
OLYMPICS – 1984 LOS ANGELES, U.S.A.
Greg Louganis took two Gold medals in diving.
OLYMPICS – 1984 LOS ANGELES, U.S.A.
America’s “darling” Mary Lou Retton won two Gold medals in gymnastics and had her picture on Wheaties boxes.

 Editor’s note: As the 31st Games of the Olympiad approaches, August 5-21 in Rio de Janeiro, I thought it would be interesting to resurrect stories of former Olympics as written in Coconut Times in the summer of 1992, year of the Games in Barcelona, Spain.

 
The 1984 Olympics were a refreshing change of pace, as there were only a minimum of political demonstrations (although the Soviet boycott was damaging), and there were no terrorist incidents (a major concern) in overcrowded Los Angeles. The thrill of the athletic competition, the original objective of the Olympic Games, was the top priority. At various times throughout the history of the “Games, however, this has gotten lost in political innuendo, reaching its low point with the terrorist incident in Munich in 1972.
Internationally competitive athletes often have their own training regimen, which to others might seem humorous. The African runners at the L.A. Games in 1984, for example, could not stand the stop and go traffic of the side streets. So, they decided to combine some distance running with their commuting to the Games from their Olympic housing. They tried training in the Harbor Freeway at rush hour, which brought commuter traffic to a standstill. The Los Angeles Police Department took a dim view of this, so the athletes had to discontinue this practice.
Carl Lewis was outstanding in the sprints in 1984, winning four Gold medals and would go on to compete again in 1988 in Korea. Mary Lou Retton won a Gold medal in gymnastics, won the all-around competition, and then was graced with her likeness on Wheaties boxes; very unusual for a female athlete in the United States at that time.
The Olympics in 1984 saw the first women’s cycling road race. This was held in beautiful Mission Viejo, 80 miles south of L.A. An American, Connie Carpenter-Phinney, beat teammate Rebecca Twigg in a very close race. This was the first Gold medal ever won by the united States in cycling. Both ladies showed a lot of heart in this 79.2 kilometer event.
Mary Decker, of the USA, and Zola Budd, of Great Britain, had their infamous stumbling (or tripping?) incident in the 3000-meter run, which led to another country taking the Gold. Joan Benoit, of the USA, won the first Olympic women’s marathon by a very comfortable margin.
Greg Louganis, although quite well known on the West Coast and to other international divers, became nationally recognized after winning Gold medals in the Springboard and Platform Diving competitions.
The United States Men’s volleyball team won the Gold medal, which was the first medal for our country in this sport, against first rate Olympic quality competition. This was no accident, however, as we managed to get some of our very best players to compete in the event. Southern California has always been a hotbed for this sport. I believe that our 1984 Olympic success led to a resurgence of interest in the sport, as the beach version is now as popular as ever on both coasts.
Bobby Knight, of the University of Indiana and a former Ohio State basketball star, coached the 1984 U.S. Olympic basketball team which included: Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins, Alvin Robertson, Vern Fleming, Chris Mullin, Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, Leon Wood, Steve Alford, Joe Kleine and Jon Koncak.
All of these men went on to play professional basketball with the 1992 “Dream Team” to compete in Barcelona, Spain.
The U.S. men easily beat China 97-49 in their opening game. In their second game, the men won over Canada, 89-68. The U.S. women’s basketball team kept pace with an 81-47 victory over Australia. The men continued with a 106-68 victory over Uruguay and then clobbered France 120-62 to remain undefeated in the basketball competition.
The U.S. women, still very much in contention, defeated South Korea 84-47. The men then defeated previously unbeaten Spain by the score of 101-68 and completed the preliminary round-robin with a 5-0 record. This got them into the quarterfinals against West Germany whom they promptly defeated. In the semifinals, the U.S. men defeated Canada 78-59. They then defeated Spain by the score of 06-65 to win the Gold medal. Although the Soviets were not present, the Jordan-led team stated that they would have been happy to play them.
The U.S. women got into the Olympic finals by beating China 91-55. They then routed South Korea 85-55 to win their first Olympic Gold medal in basketball.
The 1984 Olympics were a great success for the United States’ entire Olympic team. After having been denied the right to compete in Moscow in 1980, the Los Angeles Games were extremely special to them. Once again, the original concept of the thrill of competition among the world’s finest (even though Russia refused to attend) was present in the 1984 Games.
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