Eighty years ago, a man who was born and raised in Pine Bluff won two gold medals in the Los Angeles Olympics.

Eighty years ago, a man who was born and raised in Pine Bluff won two gold medals in the Los Angeles Olympics.

In those same Olympics, an exhibition football game — no, not soccer, American football — was played, pitting the East’s best college players against the West’s finest. You see how far the notion of Olympic football has gotten.

But even in 1932, when radio was the dominant medium and commercial television didn’t exist, football was more popular among sports fans here in Pine Bluff. If track and field didn’t command the fanfare like football did before Bill Carr’s double feat, how popular was Olympic competition among locals?

If it wasn’t of great importance, Carr made the Olympics matter. He became Arkansas’ first two-time gold medalist. His accomplishment put Pine Bluff on the map, just before Don Hutson began his stellar NFL career and long before the basketball Razorbacks stunned the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels at the Convention Center.

Maybe no one predicted it in 1932, but Carr’s double gold started a string of victories for Pine Bluff in the Olympics, the victories not often talked about these days.

This month, we’re talking about them.

“From Pine Bluff to the Olympics” will take you inside the people and their victories, the lives that started right here. There are four from Pine Bluff known to have competed in the Olympics, all in track and field. If former UAPB standout Betty Burua makes the Papua New Guinea team, Pine Bluff will have another like connection to the Games.

Speaking of which: When you watch this year’s shot put competition, think about a young man from here who made the cover of Sports Illustrated as one of the rising stars in the discipline and captured his gold medal in Tokyo.

When you watch the sprints — and they will be exciting — remember a man who wonders what his life would be like had his young mother not moved him from Pine Bluff. That same man avoided the Jim Crow laws as a kid, went on to perhaps the most successful career for a University of Nebraska athlete and at one time was the world’s fastest man. Yeah, that guy was born here.

Then there’s someone who amazed us right here with his acrobatic skills on the basketball floor but had much more success jumping over a 7-foot high bar. He didn’t medal, but he’s still a big part of this city’s Olympic history.

Whether the interest in Olympic competition among today’s locals is high remains to be seen. But while the history of local success in the Games goes a long way back, accessing the history is so much closer — and more interesting. I’ll let you see for yourself each Sunday this month.

Twenty-six days away from the London Olympics, history doesn’t get any more exciting.

I.C. Murrell is the sports editor of The Commercial. Email him at imurrell@pbcommercial.com.