While the host city continues to bristle with excitement at the magnitude and scope of the 1984 Olympics, the clock itself is winding down on the Games, with the elaborate closing ceremonies coming up Sunday evening in the Coliseum. Once again the extraordinary show-biz talent of Hollywood producer David L. Wolper will go on display amid speculation that the Olympic torch will be snuffed out in a way that even Flo Ziegfield would not only have approved but applauded.
Looking ahead, tonight Mary Decker of the United States and Great Britain's Zola Budd, a tiny teen-ager who likes to run barefoot, meet in their long-awaited 3,000 meter battle. It's hardly a two-woman race, though, as was seen in Wednesday night's semifinals when Decker won her heat handily while Budd ran third behind Romania's Maricica Puica and American Cindy Bremser.
Also tonight, the United States men's basketball team goes for the gold against Spain, a team US Coach Bobby Knight's warriors disposed of in preliminary round play by 33 points. The Americans made it to the finals by routing Canada 78-59 Wednesday night, while Spain upset defending champion Yugoslavia 74-61.
In men's volleyball, Brazil made the finals after losing its first match 12- 15. Brazil then eliminated Italy 15-2, 15-3, 15-5.
On Saturday the world finds out for sure if Carl Lewis can equal Jesse Owens's 1936 Berlin Olympics feat of four gold medals, which hinges on the US men winning in the 4x100 meter relay final. The US men's volleyball team, an overpowering winner over Canada in its semifinal, goes against Brazil in that sport's final, while soccer and boxing finals also highlight the busy Saturday and Saturday night program.
Springboard diving champion Greg Louganis of the US goes for the platform diving gold medal Sunday in a bid for the first men's double in this sport in more than half a century. And out on the roads emotion stretches for 26 miles, 385 yards in the men's marathon, which will conclude before more than 100,000 spectators gathered at the Coliseum for the closing ceremony.
Looking back on some highlights of this second week of competition, Lewis, who had won the men's 100 meter dash earlier, added the long jump and the 200 to duplicate Owens's individual performance at Berlin and set up his shot at four golds. Carl heard some boos from the record-hungry when, already virtually certain of victory with a leap of 28 ft. 1/4 in., he decided to save his strength for later events and passed his last four attempts in the long jump rather than take a crack at Bob Beamon's longstanding world mark of 29 ft., 21/2 in. He gave the fans their record in the 200, though, clocking 19.80 for a new Olympic mark in leading a 1-2-3 US sweep.
In other track and field highlights, Joan Benoit of Maine won the first-ever Olympic women's marathon by virtually leading from start to finish; Evelyn Ashford took the women's 100 meters; and Valerie Brisco-Hooks of LA captured the women's 400 meters in 28.83 seconds, an Olympic and American record. Edwin Moses jetted to his 105th consecutive victory in the 400-meter hurdles, but Greg Foster, who was supposed to win the 110 high hurdles, got caught in the wake of Roger Kingdom of Pittsburgh, who made it an Olympic record in 13.20. Another favorite, Antonio McKay, had to settle for third place in the men's 400 won by his US teammate Alonzo Babers.
Romania got four gold medals in the women's individual gymnastics competition , three of them courtesy of Ecaterina Szabo, a remakable talent who is as at home in the air as she is on the ground. The Romanians had earlier won the team championship, but missed out on the individual all-around title via Mary Lou Retton's narrow victory over Szabo.
The US women's basketball cakewalked its way to its first Olympic gold medal, routing Canada 92-61 and South Korea 86-65 in its final two tests. For the US it was the Cheryl Miller Show, whose 60 points could have been 260 if Cheryl hadn't decided to pour her talents into a textbook floor game. The women's volleyball team also reached the gold medal game, but got blown out in three matches by the world champion Chinese. Nevertheless, the silver medal was the first of any kind for a US volleyball team in the Olympics.
Another disappointment for the US occurred in baseball, a demonstration sport that drew more than 850,000 fans during its eight-day run at Dodger Stadium. Japan, which played smarter and better baseball in the final, won the gold medal , the Americans took the, and Chinese Taipei the bronze.
Canada's first-ever diving gold medal in the three-meter women's springboard event was won by Silvie Bernier. US yachtsmen won three gold medals and four silvers. In women's team handball, Yugoslavia clinched a gold medal by defeating Korea, 29-23. In water polo the US moved within one game of its first medal since 1972 by beating Australia 12-7. In boxing, Americans moved toward the top in nearly all weight classes, but after one controversial decision South Korea lodged a formal protest that American fighters were being favored by officials.