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Los Angeles 1984 - Overview

Los Angeles : Carl Lewis force 4

The 1984 Games in Los Angeles belonged to Carl Lewis.

In his home state of California "King Carl" won gold in the 100m sprint, 200m, 4x100m and the long-jump and was to remain in top level athletics until Atlanta 1996 where his fourth straight long-jump gold gave him a career haul of nine titles at four Olympiads.

However, in response to the 1980 boycotts the Soviet Union responded in kind at LA and pressured many of its satellite states to do the same.

As a result, many events were once again deprived of the top competitors and therefore irreparably devalued.

In the absence of the Soviet bigwigs, France's Pierre Quinon won javelin gold and America's Mary Lou Retton and Japan's Koji Gushiken won gymnastic titles that all had the distinct taste of chocolate if bitten into to test their authenticity.

Some of the great and traditional clashes between East and West were sadly missed with victories in disciplines such as basketball, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling just too easy without the Soviets there to fight tooth and nail for the gold.

Pollution and profit

The Games took place in the beautifully rennovated stadium first used for the highly successful 1932 edition but several athletes complained bitterly about pollution levels in the city that they claimed hindered their performances.

But along with Lewis some great champions did of course emerge from Los Angeles.

Home sprinters Evelyn Ashford (100m and 4x100m) and Valerie Brisco-Hooks (200m, 400m and 4x400 m) dominated the track for the US.

Britain's Daley Thomson successfully defended his decathlon crown won four years earlier in Moscow.

Morocco's Nawal El-Moutawakil became the first African woman to win an Olympic gold with a win in the 400m hurdles.

Britain's Sebastian Coe completed the first ever back-to-back gold in the 1500m while Germany's Ulrike Meyfarth won the high jump 12 years after winning her first gold in the event at Munich.

The Los Angeles Games are also remarkable in that a private company organised them and did so to a tune of a profit of 150 million US dollars.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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