Edwards, Henry remember 1984 Olympics thirty years later

Published: Sep. 2, 2014 at 3:51 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 7, 2014 at 3:51 AM EDT
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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Thirty summers ago, a pair of south Georgia women stepped on the biggest stage in international basketball: the Olympics.

Damascus native Lea Henry and Cairo native Teresa Edwards were each college stars in 198. But that summer, they made the trek to Los Angeles to play for the U.S. Olympic team.

"It meant I was playing with the best of the best and the world would recognize it," Edwards says.

That year, Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt coached the Olympic team, which featured two Lady Volunteers including Henry, who was also the team's starting point guard.

"She was very hard on us. I mean she expected a lot," Henry says. "She used us as examples."

Edwards, now an assistant with the WNBA's Atlanta Dream, was the youngest on the team and didn't see much playing time. But she did learn quite a bit from stars like Cheryl Miller and Lynette Woodard. Edwards says the experience was something that helped shaped her career.

"I had to be humble. I was in the right place at the right time to be a young kid. I didn't know much, so I had to pay attention," she laughs. "I enjoyed being young."

The Americans cruised to a gold medal, winning every game by at least 28 points. Henry says standing on the podium with her gold medal during the national anthem was a life changing moment.

"That was the first time I put my hand over heart. It had so much more meaning that day," she remembers. "You realize the pride that's a part of being an American. From that day forward, every time I've heard the anthem, my hand goes over my heart."

For Edwards, the '84 Olympics were the beginning of the most decorated career in women's basketball. The former Georgia Lady Dog won four more Olympic medals in her career, including three golds. 

She says winning a gold medal in L.A. gave her the drive to launch a legendary career.

"Once I got there and I looked around and realized how big it was and what it actually meant to wear a flag on your chest or your back, then I engulfed it all," Edwards says. "Then I wanted more, and I wanted more and it just became a part of who I am."

Thirty years later, both are still involved in basketball and both say those Olympics remain among the best moments of their career.

"It has to be," Henry says. "You've had all the other fun times that made that happen, all the other accomplishments made that happen. But when you finally got there, it couldn't have been any more special."

Three decades later, both Henry and Edwards still carry the memories of the 1984 Olympics close to their heart.

"It has made such a difference in my life and my career. No matter how long ago it was, it's a special accomplishment," Henry says.

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