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Posts Tagged ‘Olympic Games

Kerri Strug of the USA is carried off the floor by her coach Bela Karolyi after her routine at the Georgia Dome in the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia

What we love about the Olympics has actually little to do with sports and everything to do with those moments. The ones that make us cry; the one that make us scream; the ones that make us say to ourselves, “I can barely get up for a snack during the commercial, let alone train every day for 15 years straight.” How do these super-humans do it?

Here are 10 golden moments from the summer games that still make me choke up:

10. Munich, 1972: Swimmer Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals
The tragic loss of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich cast a dark pall over these games. Thankfully, Spitz was on hand to raise the spirits of Americans back home who watched the 22-year-old butterfly and freestyle his way to seven gold medals — a feat still unequaled by any other athlete in a single Olympiad. Swimming has never been as thrilling since.
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9. Los Angeles, 1984: Carl Lewis makes history with four gold medals in track and field
Already a global celebrity, Lewis cemented the U.S.’s stake in track and field at these games. He began his gold-medal run by easily beating Jesse Owens’ record in the 100 M and ended the games with a fourth gold with the relay team. For the first time since Owens first graced the field at the 1936 games in Berlin, Americans saw running as an art form.
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8. Seoul, 1988: Sprinter Ben Johnson is stripped of his gold medal for using steroids
This was really hard to watch. On Sept. 24, the Canadian beat Carl Lewis in the 100 M final to win gold — even declaring later that he would have been even faster had he not raised his hand in the air before the race’s end. Unfortunately, it was the traces of the steroid Stanozolol found in his system that was his downfall. He was disqualified for doping, losing the Olympic title and, even worse, the respect of millions who watched happen. Ouch.
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7. Barcelona, 1992: The Dream Team dominates, well, everybody
If “Fantasy Basketball” had existed in the early 1990s, this would have been the team. The Dream Team existed in a purer time in American sports, when athletes were still heroes and we still gave a hoot about professional basketball players.
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6. and 5. Montreal, 1976 and Los Angeles, 1984: Nadia Comaneci’s recording-breaking perfect 10; Mary Lou Retton becomes the first non-European gymnast to win the all-around title
At 14, Romanian prodigy Comaneci scored the first-ever 10.0 score on the uneven bars. Citing Comaneci as her inspiration, Retton was just 16 when she won the world over with her sweet smile and scored perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault to win the all-around title. Suddenly, a guy with a thick mustache named Bela Karoli became the most famous coach since Lombardi.
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4. Seoul, 1988: Greg Louganis smashes his head on the diving board but rebounds to win gold
Louganis had been a favorite for two golds at the 1980 games in Moscow, but an American boycott stopped him from competing. Finally a contender in 1988, he suffered a terrible blow to the head while performing a reverse 2 1/2 pike in the prelims. Despite a concussion, he went on to ace the dive in the finals, winning the gold and the admiration of an awed global audience.
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3. Atlanta, 1996: Michael Johnson shatters his own world record in the 200 M
It was the smile seen ’round the world when Johnson realized he’d just run the fastest 300 M of all time. Seems the nickname “The Man With the Golden Shoes” (for his flashy custom Nike racing spikes) was a prescient prediction of his Olympic destiny, too.
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2. Los Angeles, 1984: Mary Decker (Slaney) is trampled by Zola Budd in the 3000 M
The gold medal-favorite Decker collided with South-African-born Budd at the 1700 mark, and Decker’s slight body was thrown to the ground, her hip injured beyond repair. I don’t think there was a sadder Olympic moment than the sight of her future husband, Richard Slaney, carrying a sobbing Decker from the track.
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1. Atlanta, 1996: Kerri Strug lands a perfect vault on an injured ankle and makes us weep like babies
If you didn’t get at least a little choked up seeing this, you officially have no heart. Shaking out her already injured ankle, her sweet face contorted in pain, Strug limped to the end of the runway and nailed her second vault — then collapsed in agony to the mat. Carried off the mat by coach Karoli, Strug was officially her generation’s Olympic hero and star of the most winning moment ever broadcast during the summer games.
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Source: http://www.film.com/tv/story/summer-olympics-top-10-most/22258333

The Official Olympic Flag
Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background. The five rings symbolize the five significant continents and are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained from these international competitions. The rings, from left to right, are blue, yellow, black, green, and red. The colors were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world. The Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.

The Olympic Motto
In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”).
The Olympic Oath
Pierre de Coubertin wrote an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games. During the opening ceremonies, one athlete recites the oath on behalf of all the athletes. The Olympic oath was first taken during the 1920 Olympic Games by Belgian fencer Victor Boin. The Olympic Oath states, “In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”

The Olympic Creed
Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for this phrase from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games. The Olympic Creed reads: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

The Olympic Flame

The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.

The Olympic Hymn
The Olympic Hymn, played when the Olympic Flag is raised, was composed by Spyros Samaras and the words added by Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was first played at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens but wasn’t declared the official hymn by the IOC until 1957.

Real Gold Medals
The last Olympic gold medals that were made entirely out of gold were awarded in 1912.

The Medals
The Olympic medals are designed especially for each individual Olympic Games by the host city’s organizing committee. Each medal must be at least three millimeters thick and 60 millimeters in diameter. Also, the gold and silver Olympic medals must be made out of 92.5 percent silver, with the gold medal covered in six grams of gold.

The First Opening Ceremonies
The first opening ceremonies were held during the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

Opening Ceremony Procession Order
During the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the procession of athletes is always led by the Greek team, followed by all the other teams in alphabetical order (in the language of the hosting country), except for the last team which is always the team of the hosting country.

A City, Not a Country
When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC specifically gives the honor of holding the Games to a city rather than a country.

IOC Diplomats
In order to make the IOC an independent organization, the members of the IOC are not considered diplomats from their countries to the IOC, but rather are diplomats from the IOC to their respective countries.

First Modern Champion
James B. Connolly (United States), winner of the hop, step, and jump (the first final event in the 1896 Olympics), was the first Olympic champion of the modern Olympic Games.

The First Marathon
In 490 BCE, Pheidippides, a Greek soldier, ran from Marathon to Athens (about 25 miles) to inform the Athenians the outcome of the battle with invading Persians. The distance was filled with hills and other obstacles; thus Pheidippides arrived in Athens exhausted and with bleeding feet. After telling the townspeople of the Greeks’ success in the battle, Pheidippides fell to the ground dead. In 1896, at the first modern Olympic Games, held a race of approximately the same length in commemoration of Pheidippides.

The Exact Length of a Marathon
During the first several modern Olympics, the marathon was always an approximate distance. In 1908, the British royal family requested that the marathon start at the Windsor Castle so that the royal children could witness its start. The distance from the Windsor Castle to the Olympic Stadium was 42,195 meters (or 26 miles and 385 yards). In 1924, this distance became the standardized length of a marathon.

Women
Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.

Winter Games Begun
The winter Olympic Games were first held in 1924, beginning a tradition of holding them a few months earlier and in a different city than the summer Olympic Games. Beginning in 1994, the winter Olympic Games were held in completely different years (two years apart) than the summer Games.

Cancelled Games
Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.

Tennis Banned
Tennis was played at the Olympics until 1924, then reinstituted in 1988.

Walt Disney
In 1960, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley, California (United States). In order to bedazzle and impress the spectators, Walt Disney was head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies. The 1960 Winter Games Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.

Russia Not Present
Though Russia had sent a few athletes to compete in the 1908 and 1912 Olympic Games, they did not compete again until the 1952 Games.

Motor Boating
Motor boating was an official sport at the 1908 Olympics.

Polo, an Olympic Sport
Polo was played at the Olympics in 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, and 1936.

Gymnasium
The word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek root “gymnos” meaning nude; the literal meaning of “gymnasium” is “school for naked exercise.” Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.

Stadium
The first recorded ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE with only one event – the stade. The stade was a unit of measurement (about 600 feet) that also became the name of the footrace because it was the distance run. Since the track for the stade (race) was a stade (length), the location of the race became the stadium.

Counting Olympiads
An Olympiad is a period of four successive years. The Olympic Games celebrate each Olympiad. For the modern Olympic Games, the first Olympiad celebration was in 1896. Every four years celebrates another Olympiad; thus, even the Games that were cancelled (1916, 1940, and 1944) count as Olympiads. The 2004 Olympic Games in Athens was called the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad.

Olympic Photo Gallery – beijing 2008

Source: http://history1900s.about.com/od/greateventsofthecentury/a/olympicfacts.htm

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According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus (a cook from Elis), won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade – a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards). This made Coroebus the very first Olympic champion in history.

The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began their revival. Coubertin is now known as le Rénovateur. Coubertin was a French aristocrat born on January 1, 1863. He was only seven years old when France was overrun by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Some believe that Coubertin attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers’ lack of vigor.* After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person.

Coubertin’s attempt to get France interested in sports was not met with enthusiasm. Still, Coubertin persisted. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games. At a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris on November 25, 1892, Coubertin stated,

Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise [sic], upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.**

His speech did not inspire action. Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent of those to do so. Two years later, Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium that was decorated by neoclassical murals and similar additional points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. This time, Coubertin aroused interest.

The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC; Comité Internationale Olympique) and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.

1896 – Athens, Greece

The very first modern Olympic Games opened in the first week of April 1896. Since the Greek government had been unable to fund construction of a stadium, a wealthy Greek architect, Georgios Averoff, donated one million drachmas (over $100,000) to restore the Panathenaic Stadium, originally built in 330 BCE, with white marble for the Olympic Games.

Since the Games were not well publicized internationally, contestants were not nationally chosen but rather came individually and at their own expense. Some contestants were tourists who happened to be in the area during the Games. Athletes wore their athletic club uniform rather than a national team one.

Pole vaulting, sprints, shot put, weight lifting, swimming, cycling, target shooting, tennis, marathon and gymnastics were all events at the first Olympics. The swimming events were held in the Bay of Zea in the Aegean Sea. Gold medalist, Alfred Hoyos Guttmann described it: “I won ahead of the others with a big lead, but my greatest struggle was against the towering twelve-foot waves and the terribly cold water.” (Guttmann, pg. 19) Approximately 300 athletes participated, representing thirteen countries.

* Allen Guttmann, The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992) 8.
** Pierre de Coubertin as quoted in “Olympic Games,” Britannica.com (Retrieved August 10, 2000 from the World Wide Web. http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/2/0,5716,115022+1+108519,00.html).

Histories of the Olympic Games

1896 – Athens
1900 – Paris
1904 – St. Louis
1906 – Athens (“Unoffficial”)
1908 – London
1912 – Stockholm
1916 – Not held
1920 – Antwerp
1924 – Paris
1928 – Amsterdam
1932 – Los Angeles
1936 – Berlin
1940 – Not held
1944 – Not held
1948 – London
1952 – Helsinki
1956 – Melbourne
1960 – Rome
1964 – Tokyo
1968 – Mexico City
1972 – Munich
1976 – Montreal
1980 – Moscow
1984 – Los Angeles
1988 – Seoul
1992 – Barcelona
1996 – Atlanta
2000 – Sydney

Source: http://history1900s.about.com/library/weekly/aa081000a.htm