YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


The Fans Jump All Over Lewis

August 06, 2004|Bill Dwyre

Three days after winning the first of his projected four gold medals, Carl Lewis thrilled a Coliseum crowd of 85,870 by hitting 28 feet 1/4 inch on his first long jump qualifying attempt. He was one of only four men to surpass the 28-foot mark, still led at that time by Bob Beamon's stunning 29-2 1/2 at Mexico City in the 1968 Olympics.

Lewis' best had been 28-10 1/4 , so it was reasonable to assume, had you been in attendance, that bigger things were to come.

But when Lewis fouled on his second attempt, and when the rest of the field did not appear to threaten Lewis' first jump, King Carl called it a night, passing on his final four attempts. When word filtered out, many in the crowd booed, and The Times' Randy Harvey wrote: "It was like paying Frank Sinatra $50 to hear one song."

Lewis won the gold, his second, but not the hearts of Coliseum fans that night.

Another track star, Edwin Moses, who had earlier taken gold in the 400 hurdles by winning his 90th consecutive final, was getting different reviews. Wrote The Times' Jim Murray, "Edwin Moses is one of the great virtuosos. You imagine Man o' War was like this."

The L.A. Olympics were in full flow. The organizing committee announced that, after Day 10, attendance was on a record pace at 3,383,000.

The U.S. men's basketball team, the expected powerhouse under Coach Bobby Knight, had its only close call, as indicated by the next day's headline: "Knight's Team Has Its Off Night, Winning by Only 11."

Kelly McCormack, daughter of Olympic legend Pat McCormack, won a silver medal in diving. Her mother, still the record holder with four diving medals in two consecutive Olympics, stayed out of sight during Kelly's news conferences and medal ceremonies, so as not to detract from her daughter's moment.

The rhetoric was heating up at the Sports Arena, site of the boxing. Mexico's Genero Leon, set to fight American star Mark Breland, predicted he would win because "Breland's jaw is weak and I think his liver is, too." Stay tuned.

Coach Arie Sellinger's U.S. women's volleyball team was on the verge of its goal, a gold medal in an Olympic final against world champion China. It was a quest that had kept the group together for nearly six years as Sellinger ran boot-camp training sessions. One reporter wrote that, for Sellinger's group, a win would "mean a gold medal and maybe a day off."

Nadia Comaneci, Romanian gymnastics star of the Montreal Olympics, was in Los Angeles with the Romanian team -- she would later move here to live -- and the entertainment press reported that, among others, waiting in a line to meet and greet her at a Hollywood party was O.J. Simpson.

At the sailing competition off Long Beach, there were protests and disqualifications, which meant all was going as expected there.

Los Angeles Times Articles