The Torches Are Lit Again: New Olympic Exhibit in Payson Library

The 2012 Summer Olympics are coming!  The games begin July 27th and run through August 12th, with most events in London, and others around the south of England and the United Kingdom.

In light of the 2012 summer games, Special Collections and University Archives pulled materials from the vault to showcase during the month leading up to the opening ceremonies.  A special new exhibit about the 1984 Summer Olympics is ready for viewing across from the circulation desk in Payson Library! Stop by to get a glimpse of photographs, one of the 1984 Olympic torches, tickets, and other items.

(The venue area seen at night, with refreshment area to the left, and pool to the right.  Click the image to view it larger.)

Traveling back to the 1984 Summer Olympics, hosted in Los Angeles, some may be surprised to find out that the water polo matches were hosted at Pepperdine University’s own Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool!  President Howard A. White was instrumental in bringing the Olympics to Pepperdine.  The Olympic torch relay passed through Malibu and a party was held in the middle of the night to welcome the torch.  (BBC News has a torch timeline with pictures, descriptions, and trivia available for all torches used from 1936 to the present!  Very neat!)

(President Howard A. White stands with the 1984 Olympic mascot, Sam the Eagle.  Click the image to view it larger.)

Pepperdine students, alumni, and coaches have participated in many Olympics, including Terry Schroeder, who played water polo for Team USA in the 1984 Summer Olympics.  A list of Pepperdine individuals involved with the Olympics since 1956 may be found on the Pepperdine University Athletics site.

(Team USA plays Brazil at Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool.  Click the image to view it larger.)

Curious to know where sports popular in Malibu will take place in London?  Beach volleyball will be at a temporary stadium in the Horse Guards Parade.  Horse Guards Parade is a large open parade ground in the center of London where the queen’s mounted guards perform the Trooping of the Colour – the grounds share a wall with 10 Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives.  5,000 tons of sand were trucked in for the games!  Water polo will be at a new venue in the Olympic Park – the first time water polo has had its own arena built specifically for the event.  The structure was built with sustainability in mind: the roof is made of inflatable, recyclable PVC; the seating was rented; and the entire arena will be dismantled after the Olympics.

Multiple archival collections held in the Special Collections and University Archives have materials related to the 1984 Olympics, including the Howard A. White papers, the M. Norvel and Helen Young papers, and the University Photographs.  For more information about these collections, or to set up an appointment to see the items up close, please email

Did you know?
Facts from the 1984 Summer Olympics

  • 6,829 athletes from 140 countries participated in the Summer Olympics.
  • Synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and wind surfing debuted as new Olympic events.
  • President Ronald Reagan officially opened the games.
  • Mary Lou Retton became the first gymnast outside Eastern Europe to win the gymnastics all-around competition.
  • Future Dream Team members Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Chris Mullin were on the team that won the gold medal in basketball.
  • Sam the Olympic Eagle was the mascot of the 1984 Olympic Games.
  • The United States finished with the most medals followed by Romania, West Germany, and China. The Soviet Union and other Communist and Socialist countries boycotted the games in retaliation for the U.S. led boycott of the 1980 games in Moscow.

Interested in doing sports research off campus?  Visit the LA84 Foundation online or in person — their headquarters are in Los Angeles a few miles away from the University of Southern California (USC), and their library houses a largest collection of sports information in North America.

The Torches Are Lit Again: New Olympic Exhibit in Payson Library
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