1985 Pulitzer Prize, Spot News Photography, The Orange County (Calif.) Register Staff, The Orange County Register
At the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, athletes from China compete for the first time since 1952. Women from around the globe run their first Olympic marathons. And three photographers from The Orange County Register—Rick Rickman, Hal Stoelzle and Brian Smith — try to outdo news organizations that have 10 times their resources.
“The L.A. Times had 40 credentials and we had three," Rickman remembers. "It was a daunting task. You realize you're so outnumbered and so outgunned... it takes over and it effects everything you do. You drive yourself."
Realizing they can't go head-to-head with their competitors, the Register photographers set a different goal. "We were looking to create a striking shot," says Smith. "We wanted someone to pick up the paper and see something they hadn't seen on TV the night before. We definitely did not play it safe. Any time I could get out of the box for still photographers, I did."
Each photographer shoots three or four events a day. On Aug. 12, one of Hal Stoelzle's assignments is mens freestyle swimming. "I had arrived at about 5:30 a.m. to secure a spot and the finals didn't begin until late afternoon. The still photo positions... were located under the spectators' bleachers. The heat under the bleachers was oppressive, hotter than 100 degrees. But when Rowdy Gaines was greeted by his teammates in front of the American flag after winning a gold medal in the mens 100-meter freestyle race, I knew the wait had been worth it."