The flame was lit in Olympia and transported by air to Athens. On 8 May 1984, it began its journey on American soil. In New York, opposite the United Nations headquarters, Gina Hemphill and Bill Thorpe Jr., the granddaughter and grandson of two famous athletes, Jesse Owens and Jim Thorpe, respectively, ran the first kilometre together.
The relay crossed the United States from East to West, through 33 States and the District of Columbia.
On 28 July, in Los Angeles, Gina Hemphill was at the Games Opening Ceremony. She carried the flame inside the Stadium before passing it to decathlete Rafer Johnson. He then climbed up a staircase to a tube that he ignited. The flame then followed the tube to the cauldron, lighting up the Olympic rings on the way.
Start date: 7 May 1984, Olympia (Greece)
End date: 28 July 1984, Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles (United States)
First torchbearer: Gina Hemphill and Bill Thorpe Jr.
Last torchbearer: Rafer Johnson, Olympic participant in athletics (1956, 1960), gold medallist in Rome 1960 and silver medallist in Melbourne 1956.
Number of torchbearers: 3,636 in the United States
Recruitment of torchbearers: 3,436 torchbearers took part in the relay as part of the Youth Legacy Kilometre Programme. The torchbearers in this category were nominated by an individual, organisation or company that made a monetary donation that was then used to promote youth activities. The remaining kilometres were covered by a team of 200 runners from AT&T, a sponsor of the relay. They each ran with the torch several times, and also had the role of escorting the participants of the Youth Legacy Kilometre Programme.
Distance: 15,000km in the United States
Countries visited: Greece, United States
Description: The body of the torch is in bronze-tinted aluminium. The Olympic motto, “Citius Altius Fortius”, is featured at the top of the torch with a representation of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum peristyle below it. The leather-covered handled has a metal ring which bears the caption: “Games of the XXIII Olympiad Los Angeles 1984”. The emblem of the Games features twice on the piece where the handle finishes at the base of the torch.
Colour: Brown, bronze
Height: 58.5cm with burner
Composition: Aluminium, bronze, leather
Designer / Manufacturer: Turner Industries, Inc.
The cauldron used was the same one used during the Los Angeles Games in 1932, when a symbolic fire was lit. Located at the top of the central arcade, it reaches over 45 metres above the ground.
The last torchbearer faced a physically demanding performance as he had to be able to climb the 96 steps of the 50° inclined staircase. In training, Rafer Johnson suffered a serious leg cramp. Following this incident, a replacement was appointed to overcome a possible failure by Johnson the day of the Opening Ceremony. This was Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlon champion in 1976 in Montreal. In case he had to intervene, Jenner, who was among the eight Olympic flag-bearers, wore sportswear underneath his Ceremony clothing.