By Tadzio Garcia
The four-year countdown has elapsed—the 2012 Olympics have arrived. Among the almost 11,000 athletes competing during the Olympic Games four are local talents.
The local athletes are boxers Dominic Breazeale (super heavyweight) and Joseph Diaz, Jr. (bantamweight), shooter Kim Rhode (double trap and skeet) and Brenda Villa, a member of Team USA’s women’s water polo team.
Both boxers drew difficult opening bouts.
Diaz Jr. drew favored Pavlo Ishchenko from Ukraine. They meet today. If Diaz, Jr. advances, he would face Cuba’s top-ranked bantamweight boxer. Diaz Jr. responded with a Tweet after learning of his draw, “Just how I wanted it.”
Breazeale faces Russia’s Magomed Omarov in his first bout and will probably face the super heavyweight top-seed if he advances.
Rhode, who has the highest individual qualification score in the 2012 Olympics double trap, begins competing for Olympic gold in this event tomorrow.
Rhode won two Olympic gold medals in this event in Athens (2004) and Atlanta (1996) and also a bronze medal in Sydney (2000). Rhode also won silver in skeet shooting in the Beijing Olympics (2008).
Villa, a graduate of Bell Gardens High School, which also produced East Los Angeles College’s four-time All-American Shawnta Barnes, has won three Olympic medals.
Villa won silver in Beijing (2008), bronze in Athens (2004) and silver in Sydney (2000).
Olympic events held at ELAC
In 1984, the East Los Angeles College football stadium hosted the Los Angeles Olympics (field) hockey events.
“The stadium cost $3 million to build in 1951 and was refurbished prior to the 1984 Olympics with a $3.2 million donation by the Weingart Foundation, a non-profit philanthropic corporation,” according to the Official Report of the Games of the XXIIIrd Olympiad Los Angeles, 1984.
The stadium was re-named Weingart Stadium as a result.
Pakistan beat West Germany in overtime, 2-1, for the men’s 1984 Olympics hockey gold medal at ELAC.
“It was a hot day and I remember the deafening sound that filled the stadium when Pakistan won. The game was an incredible experience,” said Monterey Park resident Jackie Reyes, then a Moorpark College student.
The USA women’s hockey team took the bronze medal at ELAC after outscoring Australia, 10-5, in a penalty stroke competition.
The U.S. lost to Australia in the first round but would have had a shot for a medal if the Netherlands would have won their last game of round robin play over Australia by two goals.
The U.S. team watched this game in the stands with their uniforms and gear just in case. When the Netherlands, the eventual gold medalist, scored a goal to lead, 3-1, the U.S. team took to the locker room to change.
The Netherlands beat the Australia, 3-1, Australia was tied for third place with the U.S. A tiebreaker was needed to determine the bronze.
In the tiebreaker, the Aussies and the Americans would send five women each, who would take two shots each, to a special penalty stroke competition, now known as a penalty shootout.
Judy Strong of Massachusetts, a member of that U.S. team, was quoted yesterday in Gazettenet.com saying, “the (ELAC) stadium was packed…you can hear the roar and it fuels you.”
The U.S. was a perfect 10-for-10 while Australia scored five goals.
This is the only Olympic women’s (field) hockey medal won to date.
Pre-Olympic events splashed at ELAC
The ELAC swimming pool was home for years to pre-Olympic and other national swimming meets.
The ELAC pool is known as one of the fastest in America by virtue of the many records produced from national, college and high school level meets.
For example, Tracy Caulkins, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, broke five American records in the ELAC pool at the 1979 U.S. National Short-Course Championships.
Recently, fourteen California community college records and one national junior college record were set in the ELAC pool during 2011 and 2012.