LA28, the organizing committee for the Los Angeles Olympic and Paralympic games, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission have recently been touring different sites throughout the area to see if they can be used for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
One of the venues they toured was Rancho Cienega Park and the new Michelle & Barack Obama Center For Inquiry and Exploration. Members of the IOC and LA28 got a chance to observe youth practice at the park, including inside Jackie Robinson stadium.
“They came out to try to see how much interest this track gets, how many participants or how many people use this facility,” said Dorsey track coach Gwen Gardner. “The kids, they train up here and some of the colleges train up here. Other high schools train up here also during the track season.”
Track and field students from the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks not only got a chance to see the members of LA28 but to meet track and field stars Brandon Miller and Athing Mu. Miller noted that Rancho Cienega was a “great environment.”
“Just seeing the community out here with the track runners out here, but also the football players out here just shows how much this venue is used,” he said. “It’s gonna be a big site for 2028.”
The 2028 Olympics will be the first time in history that Los Angeles will host both the Olympics and the Paralympics. L.A. Rec and Parks established the Play LA program to provide sports clinics, programs, and classes for children of all abilities in recreation centers throughout the city.
“The renovations they have done in this recreation and parks center is just incredible,” said former Lakers star Pau Gasol. “The facilities are great so kids can work out, can develop, and have a good chance to turn into pretty good athletes or pretty good human beings overall.”
Gasol, who helped the Lakers win two championships, watched a pop warner football team during their practice and even talked to local youth.
“Sports has been such an important part of my life,” Gasol said. “I see the effects of sports, I see how it helps develop communities, develop children, develop families and provide opportunities too.”
If the IOC and LA28 decide to utilize Rancho Cienega Park, it could also bring more renovations throughout the complex.
“That’s what would be good, for us to upgrade our facilities so that our kids can have an opportunity,” said West Los Angeles College track and field coach Valerie Brisco-Hooks. “I was fortunate enough to be able to achieve that by winning three gold medals here in the Los Angeles ’84 games in front of my family. That was the best thing ever.”
Miller holds the American Collegiate record for the 800m. This year, Mu became the first American woman to win the 800m at the world championships. She also won a gold medal in the 800m and the 4x400m relay during the Tokyo Olympics. Seeing them in person was “surreal” for track athlete Chandler Smith.
“Even though me and [Mu] are technically not that far in age, I still look up to her because she’s done amazing things in the short amount of time that she’s been a professional runner,” Smith said. “To be in the same space as an Olympian is just really crazy for me.”