I’m really looking forward to representing my country in the 2012 Olympics in London. Here’s a look back at ten inspiring moments from past Olympic games:
1904 – St. Louis- George Eyser
American gymnast George Eyser won six medals at the 1904 Olympics, but that wasn’t what set him apart – it was that he won all six medals with an artificial leg. His left leg had been amputated after it was run over by a train when he was young, but he wore a wooden prosthesis and won three golds, two silvers and a bronze. He is still the only man with an artificial leg to win a medal in Olympic history.
1924 –Paris –Paavo Numi
Often considered the greatest track and field athlete of all time, this Finnish distance runner won five gold medals in five events in 1924, including the 1500m and the 5000m –the finals of which were only 26 minutes apart. It is still the most gold medals in track and field won by any individual at one Olympics in the history of the Games.
1936 – Berlin – Jesse Owens
The Berlin Olympics were intended by Adolf Hitler to prove his theories of Aryan racial supremacy, but a young track and field star named Jesse Owens –grandson of Alabaman slaves –ruined that intention: he won four gold medals in the 100m, 200m, long jump and 4 X 100 relay. After he won the long jump, German silver medalist Luz Long embraced him in full view of Hitler and the world.
1960 – Rome – Abebe Bikila
A last minute replacement to the Ethiopian team because one of their runners suffered an injury, Bikila was the first Sub-Saharan African to win the marathon of 26 miles and 385 yards… completely barefoot. He set the world record, and four years later broke his own record, winning the gold again.
1968- Mexico City – Black Power Salute
Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos each raised a hand covered in a black glove on the medal podium, a symbol of protest against the racial turmoil that was occurring in their home country. Australian silver medalist Peter Norman wore a human rights badge on his shirt to show his support for the two Americans. The event was one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the Olympics.
1976- Montreal – Nadia Comăneci
Before the 16 year old age minimum was instated in Women’s Gymnastics, 14 year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Elena Comăneci stole the spotlight with a flawless uneven bars routine that earned her a perfect 10 –the first time this score had ever been awarded in modern Olympic gymnastics history. She went on to earn six more 10’s, earning her three gold medals, one silver and one bronze that year.
1992 –Barcelona – The Dream Team
This was the first year when professional athletes were allowed to participate in the Olympic games. America’s “Dream Team” stole the basketball spotlight, winning their games by an average of 43.8 points per game. Many consider them to be the best team in the history of sports.
1992 – Barcelona – Derek Redmond
Redmond was a British runner who tore his hamstring in the semi-final of the 400m and fell to the ground. Stretcher-bearers came to his aid but he refused to quit, limping to the finish line in agony. His dad, Jim, pushed through security towards the track and the two of them finished the lap together, securing this as one of the most touching moments in Olympic history.
1996 – Atlanta – Kerri Strug
As part of the “Magnificent 7” women’s gymnastics team, Kerri Strug helped her team clinch the gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, with a vault performed on a sprained ankle. After successfully landing her vault in the final round of competition, she collapsed in pain. The photo of her legendary coach Bela Karolyi carrying her off the mat became an iconic image of the XXVI Olympiad.
2008 –Beijing –Michael Phelps
American swimmer Michael Phelps appeared out of nowhere and beat former 1972 champion Mark Spitz’s seven gold medal record, winning eight of his own and setting seven new world records. He currently holds the record for most Olympic gold medals, at 14 gold overall.
What’s your favorite Olympic moment of all time?