Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mary Lou and 60 other Olympians, too

Saturday night in Los Angeles, the LA Memorial Coliseum was decked out for the 25th Anniversary of the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad. More than 60 Olympians from LA84 and other Games assembled with hundreds of LAOOC and other Olympic officials and veterans for a gala under a perfect LA evening sky.

It was indeed a special celebration, and the hosts paid great attention to detail, bringing back some of the most iconic moments from LA84 while honoring Los Angeles' prominence in the history of the Olympic Movement.

Time Magazine's 1984 Man of the Year and LAOOC chief Peter Ueberroth read a letter from former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch, who wrote a note of congratulations and memories, stating, "We will never forget that LA saved the Olympic Games," referencing how the host organization and city turned the Olympic Movement for the better following a most challenging Olympic decade filled with terrorism, financial fiasco and boycotts that nearly closed the Olympic tradition forever.

Ueberroth, the architect of the new financial system that worked wonders and set a new standard for host cities, stated that when he took the helm of LAOOC in 1979, the IOC had a respectable $1 million in its bank account, and as earlier this year, they maintain an account estimated at more than $1 billion, with billions more moved over the 25 years since LA's success. Ueberroth thanked the thousands of volunteers, government and Olympic officials who contributed, and he also honored several LAOOC and LA government executives who are no longer with us.

The event afforded attendees and media access to speak 1x1 with Ueberroth, IOC Member Anita DeFrantz, Edwin Moses, Greg Louganis, Bart Conner, Nadia Comenici, Evelyn Ashford-Washington, Henry Tillman, Peter Vidmar and Mary Lou Retton. Emcees for the night included ABC Sports veterans Keith Jackson and Jim Lampley. Also spotted on stage, where they assembled 60 Olympians, were Janet Evans, Mark Spitz, Billy Mills, Wyomia Tyus and Rafer Johnson.

Johnson, who lit the 1984 Olympic Cauldron, also took time to answer questions about his experience climbing the stairs in that perfect moment of the Opening Ceremonies (I will post video of that conversation and others throughout the week). Johnson repeated that moment, sans stairs, igniting the night before spectacular fireworks capped the night.

Posted now, part of the conversation with Retton. More to follow as time permits (heading to the beach then back to LAX and ATL)!


fredyt3 said...

Hi Nick -
I came across your Blog. Great job in putting together. I too was there and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a special feeling to look back 25 years ago.
Thanks for sharing.

Nicholas Wolaver said...

Thank you, Fedyt3! It was indeed a great event. Glad you were able to attend, and thank you for the comment/feedback.

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