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Los Angeles 1984 - Overview

Los Angeles: Carl Lewis in full force

The 1984 Games in Los Angeles belonged to Carl Lewis.

"King Carl" won gold in the 100, 200, 4x100 relay and the long jump and was to remain at the top until Atlanta in 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 L.A. 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 were therefore irreparably devalued.

In the absence of the Soviet bigwigs, France's Pierre Quinon won javelin gold and American gymnast Mary Lou Retton and Japanese gymnast Koji Gushiken took home gold medals that all had the distinct taste of chocolate if bitten 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 achieved too easily without the Soviets there to fight tooth and nail for the gold.

Pollution and profit

The Games took place in the beautifully renovated 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 (100 and 4x100 relay) and Valerie Brisco-Hooks (200, 400 and 4x400) dominated the track for the U.S.

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 400 hurdles.

Britain's gentleman athlete Sebastian Coe completed the first ever back-to-back gold in the 1500 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 organized them and did so while making a profit of $150 million.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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