Original Date of Publication: Aug. 28, 1984
After every medal, milestone and memory had been sufficiently recounted from this summer’s Olympic Games, another special group of athletes that went virtually unnoticed also brought home the gold to its loyal followers.
This diverse team, comprised from such athletic powers as the United States and West Germany, as well as the smaller nations of Finland and Jamaica, shared a common bond familiar to every Olympiad since 1904. Its overall medal count of nine gold, 11 silver and four bronze placed it in a tie with Australia in 10th place.
Just what delegation distinguished itself from so many other countries at the XXIIIrd Olympiad?
While these athletes competed for different nations, they all carried on the Olympic tradition which has become so prominent at the University of Southern California. Past, present and future Trojans hauled in more medals than ever before, with many athletes bringing home the gold in their own backyard.
Heading the list of Trojan winners were the three gold medals earned by members of the men’s volleyball team. Half of the starting lineup featured former USC Trojans: setter Dusty Dvorak, middle blocker Steve Timmons and outside hitter Pat Powers. Each played an important role in sending the United States to its first-ever medal in men’s volleyball. The significance of the gold medal was enhanced by the fact that the U.S. men’s team swept a four-match series from the Soviet Union in late May.
The USC swim stadium proved to be a welcome “home pool” as four gold medals were won in the swimming competition. Incoming freshmen Mike O’Brien and Anne Ottenbrite (representing Canada) led the way with individual golds in the men’s 1500-meter freestyle and women’s 200m breaststroke, respectively. Ottenbrite also earned a silver in the 100m breaststroke and a bronze medal in the 400m medley relay, becoming the most decorated Trojan of the Olympics.
Other gold medal swimming stars included Jeff Float in the dramatic 800m freestyle relay victory over West Germany and Chris Cavanaugh in the men’s 400m freestyle relay.
Trojan swimmer Cynthia (Sippy) Woodhead came through with a silver medal in the 200m freestyle. Woodhead’s showing in Los Angeles helped make up for the crushing blow she suffered in 1980, when the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Olympics.
West German swimmer Thomas Fahrner gave Trojan swim fans a preview of what they can expect this season as the incoming freshman gathered a silver medal in the 800m freestyle relay and a bronze in the individual 200m freestyle.
Fahrner, however, will likely be best remembered as the only competitor to set an Olympic record, yet not receive a medal. After failing to qualify for the 400m final, Fahrner came back to break the Olympic record and better the time of American gold medalist George DiCarlo in the consolation final.
Two more golds came the Trojan way as basketball stars Cheryl Miller and Pam McGee, fresh from two consecutive NCAA championships, helped the U.S. romp through the competition in women’s basketball.
Former Trojans Debbie Green, Paula Weishoff, Sue Woodstra and Carolyn Becker teamed up with returning Trojan Kim Ruddins in leading the U.S. to the gold medal final in women’s volleyball before losing to China in three games.
The silver medal was the culmination of more than six years work for Green, Woodstra and Becker, who weathered the disappointment of the 1980 boycott. Another victim of the boycott, former Trojan Terry Place Brandel, competed for the West German volleyball team.
The demonstration sport of baseball took on a decidedly cardinal and gold flavor with USC Coach Rod Dedeaux leading the team to a silver medal at Dodger Stadium. Trojans Mark McGwire and Sid Akins also competed their amateur careers as members of the Olympic team. Although both players had a remaining year of eligibility, each signed professional contracts during the summer.
The track and field competition signaled the return of former Trojan sprinter Don Quarrie. The Los Angeles games marked the fifth consecutive Olympiad in which Quarrie has participated, a record for a male sprinter. Quarrie received a gold and silver in the 1976 Montreal Games along with a bronze in Moscow.
While Trojan hurdler Tonie Campbell was an expected medalist in the 110m high hurdles, a lesser known former Trojan, Arto Bryggare of Finland, grabbed the bronze. Bryggare competed for USC in 1979 as a member of Vern Wolfe’s track team.
Another incoming Trojan to win an Olympic medal was Mission Viejo’s Wendy Wyland, bronze medalist in women’s platform diving. Many expected Wyland to repeat her World Championship performance of 1982, but a poor compulsory score eliminated the 19-year-old’s chances for a gold medal.
For Wyland, the immediate future includes four years at USC while her long-range goal remains Seoul, South Korea, and the 1988 Olympics.
All of the 1984 Trojan Olympians will be honored at halftime of the USC-Utah State football game Sept. 8 at the Coliseum.