Fron the amazing swimmer, MichaeL Phelps to the shocking story of Jesse Owens, here are 10 of the greatest summer olympic moments.
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5. Jesse Owens - Jesse Owens was an American sprinter that competed in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Hitler had been determined to show the racial superiority of the Aryan race at the games, while depicting the other races as inferior, which included those of African descent. Owens did not let the propaganda affect him. He went on to win 4 gold medals at the games, a record which stood for almost 50 years until Carl Lewis equaled the task in 1984. He was the most successful athlete at the Berlin games and is credited with “single handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.” Owens ended his career as maybe one of the biggest stars in track and field history.
4. Derek Redmond - By the time an athlete makes it to the Olympics, they have dedicated their entire lives to their sport. British sprinter Derek Redmond was supposed to compete at the 1988 Olympics, but tore his Achilles tendon just before the start of the games, delaying his dream another 4 years. He fought long and hard to recover from his injury and get back in form. As he entered the starting gates of the 4 x 400 meter relay in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, his dream was finally coming true. Redmond was one of the favorites to medal, having won a gold medal at the World Championships the year before. Shortly after the start of the race Redmond felt his hamstring tear and collapsed on the track. Gritting through the pain and determined to finish, he struggled to get to his feet and try to finish the race on one leg. Not able to stand watching his son in struggle in pain, his father raced to his aid and put his arm around him and helped him finish the race, creating one of the most touching Olympic moments ever.
3. Michael Phelps - One of the big stories leading in to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, was the story of American swimmer Michael Phelps and his quest to potentially break the record for the most gold medals ever won in a single Olympic games. He was chasing fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz, who had won 7 gold medals in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Phelps performed masterfully, overcame the immense pressure to win 8 gold medals, while shattering American, Olympic, and World records in the process. Since then he holds most gold medals by an Olympic athlete with 18. In addition, his 22 total Olympic medals make him the most decorated Olympian of all time.
2. Nadia Comaneci - Nadia Comaneci was only fourteen when the world fell in love with her at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal. Standing 4’11 inches tall, and weighing only 86 pounds, this Romanian gymnast ended up winning 3 gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the games. But it was her performance on the uneven bars that made history. Her routine was so perfect that the judges had no choice but to award her a perfect 10 – something that had never been done before in Olympic gymnastics history. As a matter of fact, the feat seemed so inconceivable that the scoreboards weren’t even designed to display a number that high. This accomplishment would have been enough to go down in the annals of Olympic history by itself, but amazingly Nadia went on to win 6 more perfect 10’s at the same Olympics - a feat which has never been repeated at any Olympic games since!
1. Kerri Strug - Heading in to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, the United States women’s gymnastics team was trying to achieve something that no other US women’s team had – team gold. The team included the current World Champion, Shannon Miller, the most decorated US women’s gymnast in history, as well as Dominique Dawes and Dominique Moceanu, the previous two US national champions, up and coming Kerri Strug, and individual apparatus specialists Amy Chow, Jaycie Phelps and Amanda Borden. Together they were nicknamed “the Magnificent Seven”. The team started off shaky and was neck and neck with Team Russia in the point totals. Russia had long dominated women’s gymnastics, winning the gold medal at every Olympic Games dating back to the 1950’s. Going in to the final individual event, the vault, the US only needed a score of 9.430 to secure the gold medal, however Dominique Moceanu’s two attempts only yielded a 9.2. The home crowd was anxious. The weight of the country fell on the shoulders of Kerri Strug. On her first vault she hit the mat hard and appeared to injure her ankle. Hobbling back to the start, she knew she needed to stick the landing in order for the US to win gold. After successfully completing the vault, and sticking the landing, she immediately collapsed on the mat in pain and needed to be carried to the podium by her coach. The pain didn’t matter though as the US had won gold.