Arts & Entertainment

How you can keep the Olympic spirit alive after the 2016 Games

United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
Dmitri Lovetsky/AP
United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
The United States celebrates winning the Women's Water Polo Gold Medal match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
Gold medalist Simone Manuel of the United States celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Freestyle Final on Day 6 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on Aug. 11, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Adam Pretty/Getty Images
United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
Nia Ali of the United States celebrates with the American flag after winning the silver medal in the Women's 100m Hurdles Final on Day 12 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on Aug. 17, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images
United States' Simone Biles bites her gold medal for the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, venue for two previous Olympic Games, is seen on Aug. 26, 2015 in Los Angeles.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images


The 2016 Olympic Games are over, but they once again provided inspiration to viewers around the world.

"I was inspired as an African-American woman who runs a youth sports foundation to see African-American women perform so well," LA84 Foundation President and CEO Renata Simril told KPCC. "Winning is evidence of a lot of hard work, perseverance, overcoming obstacles, but for those watching, it felt magical."

The LA84 Foundation was started with surplus money from L.A.'s 1984 Olympic Games, and they've used that money to fund youth sports throughout Southern California.

"What we do is we try to inspire the next generation of Olympic athletes in underserved communities to really engage in sports," Simril said. "While it's not our goal or our mission to develop Olympic athletes, we've done that too. About 12 Olympic athletes have come through our program, most notably Venus and Serena Williams."

The Olympic Flame burns outside the LA84 Foundation Sports library. The flame is a symbol of peace between the people of the world.
The Olympic Flame burns outside the LA84 Foundation Sports library. The flame is a symbol of peace between the people of the world.
Andres Aguila/KPCC

Simril offered ways to support the Olympics between games:

Supporting Olympic athletes in an expensive business, with the U.S. Olympic Committee being one of the only ones that receives no federal government support, Simril said.

"When you think about the cost that it takes a Michael Phelps to become an elite athlete — the coaching, the training, the workouts, the travel. He can't... he's a professional Olympic athlete representing the country," Simril said.

Some of that Olympic inspiration may make its way back to L.A. with the city in contention for the 2024 games. Simril hopes they return to the city, 40 years after the city's last games.

"L.A. is Olympic-ready. I mean, we're ready to go," Simril said. "The largest cost of an Olympic Games is the athletes' village. It's already been public that UCLA will house the Olympic Village, so the investment that UCLA has made in some world-class, state-of-the-art dorm facilities and cafeteria facilities serves that purpose."

She added that L.A. has also already dealt with many of the other costs and has a number of sports facilities available — plus some new ones on the way thanks to teams like the Rams and the L.A. Football Club. The city also had a lot of success this year — according to the Atlantic, if L.A. were a country, it would have the ninth highest medal count in the world.

L.A. has shown that it supports sports, Simril said, pointing out that 83,000 people just showed up for a Rams preseason game. She said she expects people will come out, especially for the more popular sports like track and field, swimming, basketball and beach volleyball.

Even while those sports may grab the headlines, Simril said she knows there's a lot of excitement out there for nontraditional sports, which LA84 also helps promote.

"My 9-year-old is very excited that karate is now an Olympic sport. Because we used to joke around with him and say, 'You've got to take a sport.' He says, 'I do play a sport, mommy! I take karate!' I'm like, 'Karate's not even an Olympic sport.' Now he says, 'See mommy? It's a sport!'"

Simril said she plans to go to Japan for the 2020 games — and her son wants to see the karate. If L.A.'s Olympic committee succeeds, he may have the chance to see it again four years later.