The Greatest Olympic Moments In History
After a year of delay, the 2020 Olympic Games Tokyo are in full swing! Athletes from around the world will be testing their mettle in Japan for just over two weeks, in a bid to immortalise themselves as Olympic Champions.
To commemorate the start of the games in Tokyo, we’re going to run through some of the greatest Olympic moments in history; from sheer prowess to feats of selflessness and decade-defining actions.
Abebe Bikila Barefoot Marathon (1960)
To most, even the thought of running a marathon can be enough to break a sweat. But what about running a marathon barefoot? Well, that’s exactly what Ethopian marathon runner and two-time gold medalist Abebe Bikila did in the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
Not only did the trailblazer set the world record for fastest time in an Olympic marathon (twice), but also became the first black African Olympic gold medalist in history; all with no shoes (or socks) on.
Unfortuentaly, Bikila passed at the age of 41 in 1973; though his legacy and ability is still celebrated to this day.
Lawrence Lemieux Sailing Rescue (1988)
Arguably one of the most selfless acts in any sporting event in history; Candian sailor Lawrence Lemieux was on a clear track for the second place in the sailing event, taking place just of the coast of Busan in South Korea.
However he abandoned his path when he realised that another boat, manned by the Singapore team, had capsized; leaving both Sailors onboard injured and in need of assistance. Lemieux sailed out to them, pulled them from the water and waited for medical assistance; rejoining the race thereafter and placing 22nd.
For his selfless act, his original second place holding was reinstated.
Usain Bolt Smashes World Record (2008)
In 2008, a young, relatively unknown man from Jamaica came to the Beijing Olympics with dreams and a determination to become an Olympic Champion. Not only did he succeed, but he also set several world records and is now widely considered to be the greatest sprinter of all time. I am, of course, talking about Usain Bolt.
zHe again set a new world record for the 100m sprint (9.62 seconds), and then again for the 200m sprint (19.3 seconds), becoming the first Olympian to set world records in both 100m in a single Olympic event.
He went on to be the only sprinter to win Olympic 100 m and 200 m titles at three consecutive Olympics (2008, 2012 and 2016).
Flo-Jo: Fastest Woman Of All Time (1988)
In 1988, history was made when Californian Florence Griffith Joyner set the world record for the 200m sprint (21.34 seconds) at the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, going on to win 3 gold medals.
Having already competed in the 1980 and 1984 Olmypics, it was in the 1988 US Olympic Trials that she set the new world record for the 100m sprint (10.49 seconds), making her the fastest women in the world, still to this day.
Sadly, Griffith Joyner passed in her sleep from an epileptic seizure in 1998, after retiring from her sprinting career in 1989.
The Birth and Legendary Performance of ‘The Dream Team’ (1992)
Never before has such a team been assembled for any sport than the US Nationa Olympic Basketball team of 1992. Consisting of some of the most well regarded and legendary basketball players of all time, including Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley, the team went on to win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
The legendary team defeated its opponents by an average of 44 points and have been described as “arguably the most dominant squad ever assembled in any sport” and “the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet”.
Greg Louganis: Come Back Of The Century (1988)
Not many people can say that they gave themselves concussion and still win a gold medal. One who can is Greg Louganis, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest divers of all time and “probably the greatest diver in history” (Rolling Stone, 2015).
In the preliminary round during 1988 Olympic games, Louganis hit his head on the diving board he’d just jumped from. Despite this, he completed the preliminaries and went on to earn the gold medal, by an incredible margin of 25 points.
Nadia Comăneci: The First Perfect 10 (1976)
Before 1976, not a single gymnast had ever achieved a perfect 10 score in the history of the Olympics and had been thought to have been unobtainable. That was until 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci attended the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, where her uneven bar routine really set the bar (pun fully intended).
In the same games, she then went on to achieve another six perfect 10’s, going on to win gold medals for the individual all-around, the balance beam, and uneven bars. Comăneci was the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title and holds the record as the youngest ever Olympic gymnastics all-around champion; which is much more than I’d achieved by 14.
Matthias Steiner: Gold medal for Deceased Wife (2008)
Very few stories have come out of the Olympics that are as moving as the one behind Austrian-German weightlifter Matthias Steiner’s champion win in the 2008 Beijing games. In the lead-up to the event, Steiner’s wife was killed in a car collision, leading him to make the tough decision of carrying on to compete in the games and promise to win gold for her.
After several failed attempts from both Steiner and his rivals, the pressure was on Steiner to lift more than he’d ever previously attempted. With obvious determination, Steiner lifted 258 kg in a successful clean and jerk, securing him a gold medal.
Steiner stood on the medalists’ podium with a photo of his late wife.
The Black Power Salute (1968)
When you think of the Olympic games, you think of medals, superhuman performances, and incredible opening ceremonies. It’s quite unlikely that you’d instantly think of powerful political statements; that’s because they’re relatively rare, but when they’re made they go down in history.
And that’s exactly what happened in the 1968 Olympic Games when 200m gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos both raised one gloved fist in solidarity with the Black Power movement during the peak of the US Civil Rights movement.
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