August 13, 1984 12:00 PM

The Summer Olympics got under way last week, but it is an event for which PEOPLE has been prepping for a year. We began our coverage in August 1983, introducing our Olympic section with a story on the president of the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee, Peter Ueberroth. Since then we have published 35 stories profiling 53 competitors, among them gymnast Mary Lou Retton, hurdler Edwin Moses and swimmer Steve Lundquist, who won a gold medal and set a world record on opening day. But our coverage has not been all jocks. We have spotlighted the arts (Olympic painter Ernie Barnes and the master of opening and closing ceremonies, David Wolper), medicine (Dr. Robert Kerr on human growth hormones) and inventions (Chester Kyle’s racing bicycle with carbon-fiber disk wheel on which U.S. cyclist Steve Hegg set an Olympic record in the 4,000-meter individual pursuit). This week we take a look at decathlete Daley Thompson (p. 111) and barefoot wonder-runner Zola Budd (p. 36), and we mourn Bomber, the bald eagle who died trying to become an Olympic star (p. 79).

To cover the Games, PEOPLE has its own team in Los Angeles. The captain is Senior Editor Mark Donovan, 31, who joined the magazine in 1977 after spending three years at SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. “There has been so much advance coverage,” says Donovan, “that we are now rooting for an unknown to emerge. What I would like to see is a superstar in the making.”

Assisting Donovan are:

•Mary Carroll Marden, 39, who is editing pictures on the scene. Outfitted in red helmet and burgundy jacket, she also transports our film from the magazine’s downtown L.A. labs to the printing plant in Torrance astride a motorcycle.

•Deirdre Donahue, 26, who has been the reporter and writer on the Olympic beat all year. A track enthusiast, she has continued her routine of running five miles a day while at the Games.

•Susan Reed, 27, a squash player ranked 16th nationally this year and a lifelong sports junkie. She began her L.A. stint tracking Zola Budd.

•Jeff Jarvis, 30, the admitted “non-jock” of the group. He is overseeing our in-the-field reporting-and editing on portable computers—another first for us. Though he doesn’t follow any sports “at all,” Jarvis says even he is excited by the Games. “It is,” he says happily, “the sporting event for non-sports fans too.”

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