Track and Field

Los Angeles: home to 137 world records!

The purest of all sports has been one of the highlights of Los Angeles sports history. In fact, in the Sports Council's poll of the 100 greatest moments in area sports, 12 of the top 100 came from track & field: no. 24, Carl Lewis's four gold medals in the 1984 Olympic Games; no. 41, Rafer Johnson's Olympic decathlon win over fellow Bruin C.K. Yang in Rome in 1960; no. 60, Babe Didriksen's multi-medal performance in the 1932 Olympic Games; no. 64, Willie Banks' American Junior Record triple jump to defeat USC, 75-70 in 1975; no. 65, Parry O'Brien's world shot put record over 60 feet in 1954; no. 66, USC's Charley Paddock's sprint record spree on April 23, 1921; no. 70, UCLA's three-peat NCAA championship dynasty in 1971-73; no. 73, USC's remarkable 1943 NCAA championship team of four athletes; no. 77, Jackie Joyner-Kersee's world-record performance in the 1988 Olympic Games heptathlon; no. 84, Charlie Dumas' world-record leap to become the first-ever over seven feet in the 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials at the Coliseum; no. 91, Jesse Owens' appearance in the Coliseum in 1935 when Ohio State came west to meet USC, and no. 98, USC's Bud Houser in his Olympic gold-medal double in Paris in 1924 in the shot put and discus.

More proof of success? How about 137 IAAF world records set in Los Angeles in its marvelous history, the most in any U.S. city and the fourth-highest total of any city in the world!

Quick Facts

  • In addition to the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games competitions held in the Coliseum, the U.S. Olympic Trials have been held there in 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1984. The 1991 U.S. Olympic Festival track & field competition was held at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.

  • U.S. national championships were held in Los Angeles for men in 1921 (Pasadena), 1952 (Long Beach), 1962 (Walnut) and 1974 (UCLA) and for women in 1925 (Pasadena), 1962 (Los Angeles), 1970 (UCLA) and 1973 (Irvine) and combined in 1976-78 (UCLA), 1979-80 (Walnut) and in 1990 (Cerritos College).

  • International championship track & field competitions will come back to Los Angeles in 2006 when the IAAF World Cup will be held in the new Home Depot Center track & field facility in Carson, California.

  • Annual fixtures in the Southern California start with the mid-February Los Angeles Invitational, the area’s major indoor meet, held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Outdoors, season highlights include the Rafer Johnson-Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at UCLA in the first week of April, the enormous Mt. San Antonio College Relays in mid-April, the UCLA-USC dual meet in late April, the Steve Scott Invitational at UC Irvine in early May, the Home Depot Track & Field Invitational in early June (at the Home Depot Center) and the SoCal USATF Championships (and Jim Bush Classic) in early June.

  • Lest we forget, the City of Los Angeles Marathon is the major road-running event of the year in Southern California, usually held on the first Sunday in May. Attracting nearly 20,000 entrants, it’s been one of the largest marathons in the nation since its inception in 1987.