As a 16-year-old, I traveled to Los Angeles to experience the 1984 Olympic Summer Games. The most memorable experience I had was sitting in Row TT in the Los Angeles Coliseum to watch Carl Lewis and Team USA run in the 4 X 100 Metre Relay Finals. My friend Gary and I were seated so high in the stadium we could wave ‘Hi!” to the ABC Sports cameraman who was positioned on what seemed like a skyscraper lift outside of the stadium.
When the race started spectators stood on their feet to cheer the athletes on. As the first runners handed off the baton to the second runners the roar of the crowd suddenly become more partisan with what seemed everyone encouraging Team USA on by chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A!!” Once Carl Lewis received the baton to run the final 100 metres the roar of the crowd was deafening! I snapped this picture at that moment with a telephoto lens camera that my brother let me borrow.
Carl ran the final leg of the relay in World Record time. As I was jumping up and down with utter joy at what I just witnessed I turned to Gary and said to him “This is great! I want to work on the Olympics someday!” Little did I realize that on that day and at that moment my life would forever change. After LA, I began my journey of working in sports, on the Olympic & Paralympic Games, and many other events inspired by that ‘one moment in time.’
Thirty-two years later, in 2016, I was in Washington, DC working on my seventh White House visit with Team USA. In our hotel lobby, I was meeting with my staff when I heard a familiar voice speaking behind me. A voice that I heard many times during TV interviews and broadcast commentary. I turned around and it was…Carl Lewis. Whoa! I knew I had to talk with him. I walked up to Carl, shook his hand, and said, “Hi Carl, you don’t know me but my name is Derrick Salisbury and I have a quick story to share with you.”
I then explained to him my 1984 Olympics experience in the LA Colesium and that his overall Olympic medal-winning accomplishments in Los Angeles made me want to pursue a career of working in sports (most notably on the Olympic Games). I said to him, “That one day changed my life.” He put his arm around me and said “That day changed BOTH of our lives! Congratulations on all that you have done for the Olympic movement. Thanks for sharing your story with me.”
Lesson Learned: Your actions can inspire people and never even know it. Don’t ever give up on your dreams! (Me with Carl in 2016)