The Local Olympic Movement

Published 11:36 pm Monday, July 18, 2016

Imagine being in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Summer Olympics.

Not in 1984, but 1932, when memories of athleticism were relegated to black-and-white newsreels on the big screen.

A young lady born in Port Arthur becomes America’s darling with two (nearly three) gold medals won, building her resume as the world’s greatest female athlete. More than eight decades later, a graduate of Memorial High is set to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics hoping to bring high jumping gold to Jefferson County for the third time.

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Between Babe Didrikson Zaharias’ twice-golden moments and Inika McPherson’s pursuit, seven others with ties to greater Port Arthur — two being residents of Nederland — have stepped foot on the world’s greatest athletic stage.

One of them, who actually earned bronze in 1928, was right there with Babe in Los Angeles.

Two boxers made the same Olympic team, only for war to dash their dreams.

A high-flying college basketball star made like Babe and high-jumped his way to glory.

Another boxer is said to have been robbed of a medal 20 years later thanks to a controversial decision by judges.

A longtime collegiate coach led one of America’s fiercest track and field teams ever 20 years after that.

Another high jumper competed in the following five straight Olympics, but came up short of the podium.

This, in a nutshell, entails the history of our own hometown favorites in the Olympic Games.

Count them: Nine participants.

Beginning Wednesday, The News sports editor I.C. Murrell will examine the Olympic exploits of these nine individuals in a seven-part series called “The Local Olympic Movement”. The series will wrap up the day the torch is lit in Rio.

Some athletes shared the same stage with their (would-be) neighbors, so their stories are easily intertwined.

Here’s a look at the stories to come (in order of their Olympic competition):

• Wednesday: Sidney Bowman and Babe Didrikson Zaharias, track and field, 1928 and 1932

• Sunday: Morris Carona and Dick Menchaca, boxing, 1940

• July 27: Buddy Davis, track and field, 1952

• July 31: Bubba Busceme, boxing, 1972

• Aug. 3: Barbara Jacket, track coach, 1992

• Aug. 4: Amy Acuff, track and field, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012

• Aug. 5: Inika McPherson, track and field, 2016

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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