1980s1984 L A OlympicsABCFrank GiffordOlympicsOther SportsRunningSpecialsTrack And Field

Olympics – 1984 Los Angeles – ABC Profile – Track 800m – BRA Joaquim Cruz


Joaquim Carvalho Cruz (born March 12, 1963 in Taguatinga, Distrito Federal) is a former Brazilian athlete….who won the men’s 800m dash at the 1984 Summer Olympics….as he is still today one of only five men to run the 800 m in less than 1:42 minutes.

Cruz was born in Taguatinga, in Distrito Federal was the son of a steel worker….who began running as a 13-year-old…and soon showed astonishing talent as a junior. At the age of only 15 his personal best over 800m stood at 1:51 min….setting a junior world record of 1:44.3 min in 1981….allowing him to receive a scholarship for the University of Oregon in 1983.  The move immediately paid off….as Cruz won the NCAA championships in the 800m that same year…..also winning the bronze in his inaugural World Championships in 1983.

The following year, Cruz became one of only a handful of people to win the 800m/1500m double at the 1984 NCAA Track & Field Championships (a feat that would not be repeated for another 26 years until another Oregon Duck, Andrew Wheating, turned the trick in 2010).  Cruz is the co-holder of University of Oregon 1,500 m school record of 3:36.48 along with A.J. Acosta. 

The 1984 Olympic Games were held in Los Angeles….as Cruz was considered to be one of the 800m favorites….along with world record holder Sebastian Coe and teammate Steve Ovett of Great Britain. In the last turn of the 800 meter final, Cruz started a sprint from second place and took the lead, never losing it. He crossed the line in 1:43.00, breaking Alberto Juantorena’s Olympic Record….making him the first Brazilian Olympic track and field gold medalist since triple jumper Adhemar Ferreira da Silva won both in 1952 and 1956.

At the 1988 Summer Olympics….Cruz appeared to be on his way to retain his Olympic 800m title….when he was passed by Kenya’s Paul Ereng….leaving Cruz with the silver medal. Troubled by Achilles’ tendon injuries….Cruz was never again able to reach the international top level…..but Oh what a great runner he was in 1984 at Los Angeles.


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