The 1984 Summer Olympics contained both spectacular highlights and a little bit of controversy. In 1980, the U.S. led a boycott of the Summer Games at the height of the Cold War. The amount of nations competing in the games numbered only 80 thanks to the U.S. protesting the Soviet’s 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, the Soviet Union struck back by leading a revenge boycott. Unlike 1980, 140 countries took part and the games provided a number of special moments.
- Carl Lewis. Carl Lewis’ Olympic career stretched from 1979 to 1996 but it was 1984 that provided the highlight to the athlete’s career. It was in Los Angeles at the 1984 Summer Olympics that Carl Lewis matched Jesse Owens’ record of four gold medals. He began his medal run with a time of 9.99 seconds in the 100 meters. His next event was the long jump and his first distance of 8.54 meters was enough to wrap that up easily. His third gold was in the 200 meter, with an Olympic record time of 19.8 seconds. His fourth gold medal was in the 4 x 100 meter relay, which he anchored. He finished with a world record time of 37.83 seconds.
- Mary Lou Retton. When 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton won the women's All-Around with a pair of 10s in her last two events, she won over the hearts of America. The gymnast, standing a mere 4’8” tall, entered the final two events in a close raise for the all-around title, trailing Romanian gymnast Ecaterina Szabó. Retton won by barely 0.05 points when she scored perfect 10s on both the vault and the floor exercise.
- Roger Kingdom. Greg Foster came into the 1984 Olympics ranked No. 1 in the world in the 110-meter hurdles. He was highly favored to win the event in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Roger Kingdom won a gold medal in the 1983 Pan American Games but entered the 1984 Olympics as a 21-year old upstart. The entire nation watched in shock as Kingdom upset his teammate, catching him in the final five meters, to not only win the gold medal but set a new Olympic record at 13.20 seconds.
- Valerie Brisco-Hooks. In the 1984 Summer Olympics, runner Valerie Brisco-Hooks won three gold medals, becoming the first Olympian to earn gold medals in the 400- and 200-meter events. She broke the Olympic record in the 400-meter event with a time of 48.83, becoming only the fifth woman to come in under 49-seconds in the event.