UCLA Spotlight


Octavious Gillespie, Decathlete and Artist

  • By Mike Padilla, Shadi
  • Published Mar 1, 2004 8:00 AM

When Octavious Gillespie attends this year’s Young Alumni Reunion, he’ll have plenty of stories to relate about his days at UCLA. For instance, there's the time in 2002 that he found himself competing in the javelin at the UCLA vs. USC dual meet. “I was recovering from elbow surgery and didn’t know if I could throw,” recalls Gillespie. “It was my first meet of the year—my first throw of the year. I hadn’t practiced or thrown hard since the surgery.”

No matter. He won the javelin competition and UCLA beat USC. “It was my greatest moment as an athlete at UCLA,” he says. “I’ll never forget it.”

The victories haven’t stopped. Since graduating with a degree in history, Gillepsie, whose strongest events are the javelin and high jump, has gone on to compete in national meets for his native Guatemala. In April, he won the California Invitational Decathlon with 7,264 points—a Guatemalan record.

By this June he’ll find out whether he’ll be going to Athens as a member of the Guatemalan Olympic team.

But Gillespie has another passion that might surprise his teammates, one that demands almost as much time and dedication as his athletic training.

Gillespie is an accomplished artist, and his work appears in UCLA publications across campus.

Self-taught as an artist, Gillespie was working at the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame when Intercollegiate Athletics staff discovered his “other” remarkable talent—and asked to make use of it. Since then, the 25-year-old has created art for numerous athletics brochures, as well as for the Alumni Association and a host of other departments.

His latest project has been to create the art for the upcoming Young Alumni Reunion on May 15, an annual event that will allow UCLA alumni from the Classes of 1994-2004 to reconnect in a sleek nightclub atmosphere. The artwork needed to appeal to his peers. “They wanted a hip scene, with cool colors and silhouettes and stylish figures,” he says.

Gillespie, who plans to attend the event, delivered.

How does he feel about seeing his art used across campus at his alma mater? “It’s pretty cool. I love doing this and I love UCLA. What more could I ask for?”