The first thing that comes to mind when I remember the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics was the amazing spectacle of watching a man wearing a jet pack fly around the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at the opening ceremony before landing neatly in the middle, much to the delight of the assembled thousands of onlookers and millions of TV viewers around the world. You can probably imagine the awe and wonder I felt as a seven year old boy as I watched a real-life man fly a real-life jet pack, something that I had only ever seen previously accomplished in the ZX Spectrum computer game Jet Pac.
From that moment on, I began to dream that I would one day own a jet pack and fly to school with it and this was a dream that persisted until a few years later when I watched Back to the Future II and decided that I would actually prefer to go to school on a hoverboard.
As you can probably tell, the whole jet pack thing had a pretty big impact on me and as a result that's just about the only thing I actually remember about the 1984 Olympics. Having done a bit of research though, it turns out that there were actually some sporting events as well including the debut Olympic appearance of Carl Lewis who won four gold medals. Sebastian Coe also became the first man to ever win consecutive gold medals in the 1500m having previously won gold in 1980.
As well as being memorable for some amazing sporting achievements and people in jet packs, the 1984 Olympics were notable for the absence of fourteen Eastern Bloc countries including the Soviet Union. In 1984, the Cold War was still going strong and the fall of the Berlin Wall was 5 years away yet so the relationship between east and west was very tense indeed. The Soviet Union boycotted the Olympic Games in retaliation for the US boycott of the previous Soviet Games with a dramatic impact on the games, most notably in the weightlifting events where 94 of the world’s top 100 ranked lifters were absent. Additionally 29 of the 30 medallists from the recent world championships and all 10 of the defending world champions in the 10 weight categories were also absent. Despite the boycott, 140 nations participated in the 1984 Olympic Games (officially known as the Games of the XXIII Olympiad) and 6,829 athletes participated in a total of 221 events.
British sportsman Daley Thompson was a British hero bringing home a Gold Medal for the Decathlon and simultaneously providing the inspiration for the ZX Spectrum computer game Daley Thompson's Decathlon released the same year.