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Us Olympic Festival-national Sports Festival

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I played in the 1982, 83, and 85 games. They were great, especially for smaller sports like team handball because it really gave the sport some exposure. One of the problems was sports like track and field became more professional [meets gave large appearance fees to the name stars] and those athletes had less motivation to give time from their schedules. This made it less appealing for ABC/ESPN to broadcast, and so the money dried up. After '96 the Olympic Committee started focusing on sports we had won medals in, and reduced funding to sports we had not medaled in. A real Catch 22 if you ask me. Anyway, I have a lot of great memories of the Festivals and wish they would try to revive some form of them in the future.

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I had the pleasure of coordinating the 1985 National Sports Festival (Baton Rouge) Torch Relay that began at Pikes Peak, stopped in Houston to tout the 1986 Olympic Festival there, and after arriving in Vinton, Louisiana, took the torch throughout the state arriving eventually in Tiger Stadium.

Because of our success on a shoestring I also had the opportunity to direct the runs in Texas in 1986, titled a Run Through Texas History (it was also Texas' sesquitennial)that ended in the Astrodome, and in 1987 from "Manteo to Murphy" for the '87 Olympic Festival (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill)where we finally arrived in Carter Finley Stadium.

This three year period was one of my most enjoyable event planning and management experiences of my career. I loved the states that I worked in and the many thousands of runners and the hundreds of communities we ran through produced lifelong friends and lifelong memories.

You did a fine job on all three relays (I attended all three). In fact, my daughter, who was 9 years old at the time, carried the torch in the 1986 US Olympic Festival Torch Run and handed it off to the next runner in front of the San Jacinto Monument (at the top of the reflecting pond). It was a great experience for her and our family. I wish the USOC would reinstate the Olympic Festivals, or a somewhat similar event. It would so wonders for the domestic Olympic image.

I volunteered for the 1986 Olympic Festival in Houston as a driver for members of the USOC. It was a blast! I also got to meet several well-known olympians. I'm sorry the games are not held any more as it was a great experience for the athletics in prep for the real Olympic events. Great memories from this event!

Thanks for the post. It is hard to believe that the Festival in Houston was 24 years ago.

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I participated in the 1986 Olympic Festival. I was on the South women's vollyeball team, and won a Silver Medal. It is sad that they afre no more. It was a great time. The hosts in Houston were fantastic. We took a cruise on a huge yahct in Galviston. It was truely a huge Olympic like experience. Loved every minute of it!!!!!!

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I';d never heard of the US Olympic festivals till I joined the board here, but I've seen over the years that there's a LOT of fond memories of it among so many Americans. Perhaps someone should start a campaign to the USOC to get them to restart it?

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Hi,

My name is David Valade and I was in the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I was 16-17 at the time. Truly a remarkable experience that I cherish. I represented the South in Cycling - Velodrome. I placed 5th in the Men's Sprint. I remember meeting so many athletes from all sports and was like "Wow" all the time. I made quite a few friends. We stayed at the St. Thomas University dorms. The opening ceremonies was freakin awesome. I remember the Fabulous Thunderbirds was one of the bands playing in the ceremony. I still have the fiber optic flashlight... ha ha. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the ceremony or of me on the podium receiving my medal. If you have any pictures I would greatly appreciate it.

You can reach me at davidvalade@gmail.com

If anyone remembers me, please feel free to contact me:)

Thank you for creating this thread,

David

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I';d never heard of the US Olympic festivals till I joined the board here, but I've seen over the years that there's a LOT of fond memories of it among so many Americans. Perhaps someone should start a campaign to the USOC to get them to restart it?

Hey SR...you ever heard of the Australia games? There was only one held, way back in 1985 in Melbourne. I saw the weightlifting contest which was most notable for seeing Mario Martinez (the US super heavyweight silver medallist behind Dean Lukin from LA84). The AGs were supposed to be a festival of Olympic sports for Aussie athletes, but I think the 85 staging was a financial dud and the idea went nowhere/

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Hey SR...you ever heard of the Australia games? There was only one held, way back in 1985 in Melbourne. I saw the weightlifting contest which was most notable for seeing Mario Martinez (the US super heavyweight silver medallist behind Dean Lukin from LA84). The AGs were supposed to be a festival of Olympic sports for Aussie athletes, but I think the 85 staging was a financial dud and the idea went nowhere/

No, that's a new one to me. I wonder how it would fare now?

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David, thank you for the response. The Opening Ceremonies were good. I also have the fiber optic flashlight, but I do not remember which box it is stored in. I did go to the velorome but I did not take any photos. I had media credentials for that Festival and got to see Shaquille O'Neal lead the South Team to the gold medal. He had just finished his freshman year at LSU. It is a shame the USOC does not have events like this anymore. Take care and keep reading and posting on this forum.

Hi,

My name is David Valade and I was in the 1990 U.S. Olympic Festival in Minneapolis-St. Paul. I was 16-17 at the time. Truly a remarkable experience that I cherish. I represented the South in Cycling - Velodrome. I placed 5th in the Men's Sprint. I remember meeting so many athletes from all sports and was like "Wow" all the time. I made quite a few friends. We stayed at the St. Thomas University dorms. The opening ceremonies was freakin awesome. I remember the Fabulous Thunderbirds was one of the bands playing in the ceremony. I still have the fiber optic flashlight... ha ha. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from the ceremony or of me on the podium receiving my medal. If you have any pictures I would greatly appreciate it.

You can reach me at davidvalade@gmail.com

If anyone remembers me, please feel free to contact me:)

Thank you for creating this thread,

David

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Sir Rols: The USOC, when Bill Hybl was President of the USOC, tried to remarket the Festivals with the US Olympic Cup. The only one held was in Atlanta. I have posted some information on it previously in this thread. It seems the USOC os going in a different direction now and leaving most of the off-Olympic year events to the NGBs, which is a s shame. The Festivals were a great event to bring the Olympics (and their ideals) to the average American. Thanks again for your comment.

I';d never heard of the US Olympic festivals till I joined the board here, but I've seen over the years that there's a LOT of fond memories of it among so many Americans. Perhaps someone should start a campaign to the USOC to get them to restart it?

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Just as the IOC fended off the USOC's attempts at having its own "Olympics" channel, I imagine the USOC did NOT return the favor by sharing its experience with its Olympic Festivals...which I liken to the new YOGs...and the short-lived success/failure it had with it.

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Actually, the Festivals were very popular and successful. Every one made a profit with the money funneled into local sports programs. Then the NGBs decided they wanted to "control" their athletes and host their own events. As in many ventures, when groups go out on their own, they usually fail. The reason the Festivals were discontinued were some of the NGBs were unwilling to support the Festivals in favor of their own ventures. In the end, everyone lost. As far as the YOG, well, I think that was an ill-fated attempt to pump up the countries who have every little medal success in the Games. In fact, the USA sent very few athletes to compete, and some USA NGBs sent no athletes. As in anything, money is the motiviating factor. Look at LA84. They were the first Games to make a profit. Now everyone jumps in thinking they can make money and improved their city/country situation off the Olympic dollar. In fact, without the USA and its TV contract, everyone would have trouble making any Games a success. Thanks for your comment.

Just as the IOC fended off the USOC's attempts at having its own "Olympics" channel, I imagine the USOC did NOT return the favor by sharing its experience with its Olympic Festivals...which I liken to the new YOGs...and the short-lived success/failure it had with it.

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Yes, I certainly do remember that. I was a member of the East track team at the 82' festival in Indianapolis. I was a decathlete so there were 2 picked from each region. For me, it was a great event because I was trying to compete at the Olympic level and this was a great event for those who were knocking on the door to have a place to compete in a great event. Out of 8 decathletes, I'm sure I was ranked 8th but ended up winning the event. What was neat was having an awards ceremony similar but on a lessor scale than what they do at the Olympics. Stand up on the podium and have someone put a medal around your neck. That was neat. And of course, calling my family after the decathlon was over that I had actually won was a thrill. It's just sad to know that this event is no longer being contested.

Interestingly, Dwight Stones was there high jumping and Carl Lewis was there long jumping at the same meet. Carl Lewis had some 30 feet long jumps that they said were a foul but nobody could see any marks on the board to indicate he had stepped over.

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It was a huge loss for the Olympic Movement in the U.S. when the USOC discontinued the Olympic Festival. Since the Festivals were held in smaller U.S. markets (with the exception of LA '91), they were hugely popular amongst the locals and always drew excellent crowds. With all the talk about promoting Olympic sports to youth today, what better way to do that than have the top U.S. Olympic athletes in a major sports festival in a different city every year? So many top U.S. athletes were seen for the first time at the Festival. Reinstating the Festivals would go a long way toward building recognition for Olympic athletes today, especially in the local communities where they are held.

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Was in the '82 sports fest in Indy. I was on the PV runway when Lewis fouled on 30' jump and the crowd roared. What a thrill! Competed for US East (16-8). Was in Colorado Springs in '83. Glad that women PV revived interest in that event; T&F needs a boost in the US. Newbie reminded me of hanging out with Stones on the Hi Jump pits, and the Lewis controversy. Great event. Sadly, we lost a hometown boy in Houston in '86

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Clarify: bstebbs reminded me of the event. RIP Rob Roggy when he fell and hit his head @ Houston event. Our community in NJ really rallied around the tragedy. I met my wife as a result of participating and helping community leaders and Shore T&F enthusiasts to organize the Roggy Memorial Track meet and Scholarship fund. T&F lifestyle really defined my young adult years. Marching in Indy, local interest, Bob Hope, celebrations - Sports Festival helped to energize USA track.

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I attended soccer and ice hockey games at the 1985 event in B.R. I was also interested in seeing field hockey, team handball, water polo and badminton but everything was being held at the same time. I eventually attended handball and field hockey games at the 1996 Atlanta Games. At the closing ceremonies they promised to return but this was not a financial success. One problem was the "official" refinery was ARCO? (Atlantic Richfield?). This prevented Exxon from pouring mountains of money into the event. Many of the facilities that were built for this event were never used again.

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