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Memorable Olympic Moments

Updated on July 26, 2012
Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali

Michael Johnson winning the 200 and 400 metres in 1996

In a World event such as The Olympics there are always going to be headlines made. The tournament has seen the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches in 1972 and it has seen a few political mass boycotts. With such a backdrop some truly memorable moments of great sporting achievement are remembered but there also others filled with anger and regret.

JESSE OWENS dominated the 1936 Berlin Olympics winning 4 gold medals but it was the fact that he,a black athlete had proved so dominant over the white Germans that caused Adolf Hitler to leave the stadium early. He had expected his Aryan super race to dominate in every event but had been shown otherwise.

BOXING There have been quite a number of boxers who have went on to great fame and success after leaving their amateur days behind and turning professional. SUGAR RAY LEONARD in 1976. Heavyweights JOE FRAZIER in 1964 and GEORGE FOREMAN in 1968 and an 18 year old who won the light heavyweight title in 1960 as CASSIUS CLAY and went on to mega success as a heavy weight as MUHAMMAD ALI. But one of the heavyweights who really made his name in the Olympics was Cuban, TEOFILO STEVENSON who stayed amateur and was able to enter the Olympics and win in 1972 1976 and 1980.

GREAT DOUBLES To win an Olympic medal is great. To win a gold is a brilliant achievement and to win 2 golds at one games is a fantastic achievement making you a sporting legend. MICHAEL JOHNSON won the 200 and 400 metres dominating both races in 1996.Cuban ALBERTO JUANTORENA won the 400 and 800 metres in 1976 MIRUTS YIFTER of Ethiopia won the 5000 and 10000 metres in 1980. These were all brilliant achievements. But truly amazing was LASSE VIREN from Finland who won a double double as he won the 5000 and 10000 metres in both 1972 and 1976.

Greg Louganis Hits His Head On DivingBoard

GYMNASTICS There have been many fine gymnasts over the years . In 1972 the overall winner was LUDMILLA TOURISCHEVA but OLGA KORBUT was the young star who grabbed a lot of headlines. She was still there 4 years later in Montreal but this time it was Romanian NADIA COMANECI who got all the plaudits and praise as well as a few 10 markings to indicate perfection. Although standards creep up over the years it’s fair to say that for those times it was an exceptional performance.

SWIMMING Some swimmers have left their marks imprinted on particular Olympic games. MARK SPITZ dominated in1972 and ended up with 7 gold medals to go with 2 that he had already won 4 years earlier. American MICHAEL PHELPS dominated in 2 tournaments,winning 8 medals in each. 6 gold and 2 bronze in 2004 and 8 gold in 2008 and Australian IAN THORPE who won a total of 9 medals in 2 games in 2000 and 2004 with 5 of them being gold.

DIVING Another who made a big splash in the pool was American diver GREG LOUGANIS in 1988. It as something that everyone who seen it would remember although he wouldn’t have been so keen to watch it again. If you’ve ever wondered how divers never hit themselves off the diving board this made you realise they certainly can. Louganis wasn’t a novice or a poor diver . He had won many tournaments and was reigning Olympic champion. He banged his head on the diving board and gave himself concussion. This was in the qualifying heats and he did qualify and amazingly he went on to win gold again.

The mens 100 metres is usually regarded as one of the main events of the whole games and sometimes it even rises into legendary status. In 2008 USAIN BOLT was fantastic as he stormed to victory in a World record of 9.69 seconds and he also won 2 other golds

The race in 1988 was remembered for different reasons. BEN JOHNSON had stormed to victory by several metres against a strong field but soon after he was found guilty of taking steroids and his medal stripped from him and the title instead went to the runner up CARL LEWIS. But later in his career Lewis was also found guilty of drugtaking. In fact out of the 8 finalists only 2 were never found to be guilty of drugtaking.


There are some years that stand out as astonishing even above some other great years. In 1968 the conditions in Mexico were said to help the track and field athletes more than most other places. Long jumper BOB BEAMON was to break the long jump record as he jumped 8.90 metres beating the previous record by 55 centimetres. His record stood for 23 years. In the high jump gold medallist DICK FOSBURY introduced a new technique which was called after him-the Fosbury Flop taking over from other techniques and is still used throughout the World today. Politics was to the fore in 1968 and some of the black American athletes protested when they won medals. Among the more enduring images was in the medal presentation for the mens 200 metres race where Americas gold and bronze medallists TOMMIE SMITH and JOHN CARLOS wore black gloves and gave the black power salute in a human rights protest against black peoples rights.


There were some strange and surreal events in 1972 that strange probably the people watching or taking part would never forget. In the mens basketball final the big favourites USA who had never lost an Olympics basketball game had thought they had beaten Russia in the final by 50 points to 49 But Russia complained saying they had called for a time out and that there should still have been 3 seconds left to play. This was allowed and during it Russia scored to win the game and the gold. Despite huge protests the result stood and the Americans never lifted their silver medals and they are understood to still be in a bank vault in Switzerland

In the mens 100 metres 2 of the big favourites were EDDIE HART and REY ROBINSON who had recorded the best times of anyone there. They qualified through the first heat and were in the Olympic village. They were watching what they thought were highlights of the 100 metres on TV until they realised it was live. The schedules for the next round had been brought forward and they hadn’t known. They along with another American sprinter ROBERT TAYLOR were driven to the stadium but Hart and Robinson missed their own heats. Taylor was just in time for his and qualified and eventually went on to win a siver medal VALERIY BORZOV won the final and also the 200 metres and took his place in history. The athletes coach Stan Wright was made the scapegoat for the error whileHart and Robinson were left to think about what might have been.

Will there be any such mishaps this time. Who is fated to come out covered in glory and who may fall just as he is about to be crowned.


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