Carl Lewis wins gold in 200 meters

Los Angeles was host to the Summer Olympics 25 years ago. This 12th part of a 16-day series looks back at Wednesday, Aug. 8, 1984.

Carl Lewis, with two gold medals in hand from these Olympics, won the 200 meters on this day, putting him within one of Jesse Owens’ record four from the 1936 Olympics.

The thing of it is, Lewis wasn’t running full speed because of what he termed a “sore leg,” he acknowledged after the race. That is hard to believe since Lewis set the then-Olympic record of 19.80 seconds, which Michael Johnson would break in the ’96 Atlanta Games with a time of 19.32.

The big news

Lewis’ teammates Kirk Baptiste and Thomas Jefferson won silver and bronze, respectively, giving the Americans the first sweep in the 200 by any country since the U.S. did it in 1956.

The trio took a victory lap after the race, and all that remained for Lewis to break Owens’ record was a victory in the 400-meter relay, an event that had the Americans as the heavy favorites.

The big surprise

After Lewis, diver Greg Louganis of Mission Viejo was considered the next surest bet to win Olympic gold (though who really doubted the U.S. men’s basketball team, coached by Bob Knight and led by Michael Jordan?).

Louganis delivered. He beat 11 others to win gold on the 3.5-meter springboard competition and surprisingly, it wasn’t even close. Louganis won by a whopping 92.10 points. He would finish these Olympics with two gold medals, the first man to do so in Olympic diving, with the other coming in the 10-meter platform competition.


Louganis says his favorite ’84 Olympic moment was when he broke 700 points on the 10-meter platform, but his most vivid memory is what happened when he was walking up the diving platform, getting ready to dive.

“My mom and dad were in the stands, but I remember Mayor Tom Bradley coming in and he was close enough where it was right before my dive. I said, ‘Hey, you’re late,’ and he laughed.”

These days Louganis says he is doing some acting, dog training and he gives talks discussing diversity, HIV and depression.

From the archives

“With two strokes of the right hand that everyone thinks is going to make him a multimillionaire, Mark Breland put the crowd back in his corner Wednesday night at the Sports Arena. Breland, the world’s No. 1-ranked welterweight, the world champion and an enormous gold-medal favorite, was booed Monday night after he employed primarily a left jab. . . . He left the ring in a firestorm of boos from those denied the sight of his fabled right impacting on someone’s chin. Wednesday night, before 9,248, it did. . . . ‘I wanted to prove to myself I could open up, that I could take someone out, he said. ‘I’d started to wonder myself where the real Mark Breland was.’ ”

-- Earl Gustkey reporting in the Los Angeles Times on Breland’s quarterfinal victory against Mexico’s Genaro Leon

The spotlight on

Mike Tully. The former UCLA star had pole vaulted 18 feet 11 inches three months earlier for an American record. And he had said that if he could clear that height again in these Olympics, he probably would win the gold medal. He was right. But neither Tully nor anyone else did that. Pierre Quinon of France came closest, clearing 18-10 1/4 on his first attempt to win the gold. Tully, on his third attempt, vaulted 18-6 1/2 to win the silver.

-- Baxter Holmes