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Carl Lewis looks back on LA ’84 and forward to 2028

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Summer 2019 will mark 35 years since the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

Carl Lewis, a man who spent much of his career racing the clock for world records, is still unable to believe how quickly time passes.

“It’s insane that it’s gone by that quick,” he says, chuckling. “I’m 57 and I don’t know when this happened.”

Lewis won four gold medals in Los Angeles, matching the feat Jesse Owens accomplished in 1936. For Lewis, it was the start of an exquisite Olympic career that included 10 medals (nine gold) and spanned four Games. Asked what he remembers most about L.A., Lewis reflected in a phone interview this week, “Honestly, this sounds weird, [but] I don’t remember a lot. The stress level was so high…There was no time to even stop and think about it.”

With four events on his program in L.A., a then-23-year-old Lewis started the Games with four straight days of competition, competing in the prelims and final of the 100m and long jump. On his first day off, he got a haircut. Then came the 200m final, one more day off, and two days of relay competition. At the end of it, Lewis had gold medals in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump.

Lewis thought then that he’d retire in his 20s. But he continued to run with the Santa Monica track club, and after winning two more gold medals at his second Olympics in 1988, and then another two in 1992, “there [were] all these guys younger than me. I finished ’92 and said, ‘I’m still running with them, still as fast as them, so let’s just keep running until I can’t anymore. Without them, there’s absolutely no way it could’ve happened.”

At age 35, he won a final gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta in his signature event, the long jump.

“I’m the luckiest Olympian ever,” Lewis says. “My first Games were in L.A., my hometown… And my last were in my home country.”

When he looks back at his Olympic accomplishments, Lewis says the first and the last medals he won are particularly memorable.

“To come back and do that [win long jump gold in Atlanta] at that age, that one really means a lot,” he says. “The reality is if I didn’t win the 100m in L.A., it all would’ve stopped…The most endearing one was the last one but the most important one without question was the first one.”

Lewis’ last competitive season was 1997. Before the Texas Relays that year, he was waiting at home for a floral delivery and told his teammates to leave for Austin without him. He’d catch up. “I ended up waiting for my plants…and then I thought, it’s time to retire if your plants are more important,” he says.

Lewis remains involved in track and field, now as a coach. After moving back to Texas in 2013, he started working as an assistant coach at the University of Houston, his alma mater.

Lewis never thought he would coach – he had too many other things he wanted to do outside of track. But after Leroy Burrell – a longtime friend, 1992 Olympic teammate and the head coach at Houston – approached him about it, he quickly saw an opportunity to grow sprinting talent at the collegiate level to help athletes reach their full potential.

Lewis says he sometimes feels even more emotionally invested watching his athletes than he did during his own competitions. “One thing was joy, this is pride,” he says. “I really feel happy that I’m helping someone else have that experience… I’ve had more emotions, high and low, coaching than I did [as an athlete].”

Lewis no longer runs – he was never much of a jogger, he says. Instead, he rides his bike around the neighborhood and even takes trapeze and aerial silks classes. When he isn’t coaching, he is a leader of the Perfect Method, a program designed to help athletes and coaches maximize performance. He’s also plenty busy keeping up with his granddaughter, Sapphire McKinley, who is two.

When Los Angeles hosts the Olympics for the third time in 2028, Lewis could be back at the Coliseum as a coach in the same place his Olympic story began 44 years earlier.

“That’s the interesting thing,” he says. “Back in that same stadium, trying to help someone do what I did.”

Lewis will be appearing on “Undeniable with Dan Patrick” on Wednesday night.

Hayley Wickenheiser is 7th woman elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

Hayley Wickenheiser
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Hayley Wickenheiser, arguably the greatest female hockey player of all time who retired in 2017, will be the seventh female player in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The six-time Canadian Olympian (once in softball) was elected in her first year of eligibility. Wickenheiser is joined by Sergei Zubov, who earned gold at the 1992 Albertville Games with the Unified Team, two-time Czech Olympic medalist Václav Nedomanský and 1980s and ’90s NHLer Guy Carbonneau, among others.

The induction ceremony is Nov. 18 in Toronto.

Wickenheiser is the fifth Canadian female player elected after Angela James (2010), Geraldine Heaney (2013), Danielle Goyette (2017) and Jayna Hefford (2018). Americans Cammi Granato (2010) and Angela Ruggiero (2015) are also Hall of Famers.

Wickenheiser, now the Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant director of player development, earned four golds and one silver in the first five Olympic women’s hockey tournaments. She played 23 years for the Canadian national team, earning seven world titles and being named Olympic tournament MVP in 2002 and 2006.

She also carried the Canadian flag at the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony and recited the Athletes’ Oath at the Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony. She was elected to the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission in 2014.

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Breaking provisionally added for 2024 Olympics

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Breaking (don’t call it break dancing) was provisionally added to the Olympics for the 2024 Paris Games.

The IOC also announced Tuesday that skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing were provisionally added to the 2024 Olympic program. Those three sports will debut at Tokyo 2020 but were not assured places on the Olympic program beyond next year.

“They contribute to making the program more gender balanced and more urban, and offer the opportunity to connect with the younger generation,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a press release. “The proposed sports are in line with these principles and enhance Paris 2024’s overall dynamic Games concept, which focuses on inclusivity, inspiring a new audience and hosting socially responsible Games.”

The IOC Executive Board will make the final decision on the Paris 2024 event program in December 2020, but no more sports can be proposed for inclusion. That means baseball and softball, which return to the Olympics next year, will not be on the 2024 Olympic program. Those sports can still be added for the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Breaking debuted at the Youth Olympics last year, where the U.S. did not have any athletes. Sergei “Bumblebee” Chernyshev of Russia and Ramu Kawai of Japan took gold medals.

Breaking had never previously been up for a vote for Olympic inclusion, but the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the IOC.

Teenagers, some of whom went by nicknames like Bad Matty, Senorita Carlota and KennyG, went head-to-head in dance battles at the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires last year. They performed on a mat atop an outdoor basketball court to a musical beat and emcees.

Judges determined winners using six criteria: creativity, personality, technique, variety, perfomativity and musicality.

“Breaking (also called b-boying or b-girling) is an urban dance style,” according to the Youth Olympics. “The urban dance style originated during the mid 1970s in the Bronx borough of New York City.”

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