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Center Of The Universe

Photo Credit: <a href="" target="new">The UCLA Magazine</a>
Photo Credit: The UCLA Magazine

1984 was a special year for Los Angeles when the city hosted what many considered the Olympic games that truly transformed and revolutionized modern day Olympics. Paul Feinberg has a great article in the UCLA Magazine recalling the "golden days" of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games:

The Los Angeles Games revolutionized the modern Olympics and transformed the way in which the international competitions are hosted. From the first trans-American Olympic Torch Relay (which began in New York City and concluded in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with Bruin Olympian Rafer Johnson '59 bearing the flame) to the financing, which not only eschewed government funding, but actually turned a profit, exceeding $200 million.

And guess which institution was kind of in the center of it all.

Well UCLA not only was one of the lead institutions playing pivotal role in this history making event (for our city and the world) but the members of Bruin family also dominated the event:

Ueberroth [Peter Victor Ueberroth, considered as the "driving force" behind the Los Angeles Olympics. - Ed.] considers UCLA "one of the main pillars of the 1984 Olympics," but not just because of the success enjoyed by Bruin athletes during those Games. Olympic gymnastics were held in Pauley Pavilion, while the Los Angeles Tennis Center (constructed for the Games) was the tennis facility. UCLA served along with UC Santa Barbara and USC as one of three Olympic Villages where the athletes were housed and fed. And James Easton '59 served as mayor of the UCLA Olympic Village.

As for the Games themselves, 60 UCLA-affiliated athletes and coaches participated, earning 41 medals (21 gold), including gymnasts Peter Vidmar '83, Mitch Gaylord and Tim Daggett '86 (who competed in Pauley Pavilion), and track stars Evelyn Ashford, Dwight Stones, Willie Banks '78, J.D. '83 and current UCLA women's track coach Jeanette Bolden '85. Even now, Bolden recalls the camaraderie among the Bruin contingent. "Every time you'd see somebody that was a Bruin, you would just nod and smile and you just felt that unspoken kinship. It's a legacy that lasts a lifetime."

25 years later those who were responsible for helping organizing the event in Westwood are still incredibly proud of what they were able to accomplish:

"Immediately after the Games, in L.A. and on campus, [there was] a real pride in being an American and in being from Los Angeles and in knowing that UCLA was a significant part of it all," Easton concludes. "And those feelings are still with us 25 years later. We were proud that through free enterprise, we were able to put on the Games — without government support — and we just felt good about doing that."

Just another reason to feel good about UCLA.