The Most Memorable Moments in Olympic History: Celebrating Legendary Athletic Performances
The Olympics are the showcase for the best athletes in the world at the time to prove their skills in a wide range of sports. While there are some competitions that are often ignored by most people, there are some that have made amateur athletes into superstars thanks to their memorable performances. Let’s take a look at the history of the Olympics, highlighting the most memorable moments from individuals and teams who ended up capturing gold.
Jesse Owens Stuns Berlin
The world was coming to a boiling point during the mid-1930s, especially with the rise of Nazi Germany and its leader Adolf Hitler. Berlin was set to host the 1936 Olympics, with Hitler using the games as a way of promoting his ideals. His plan would backfire during the track and field events, especially when it came to the track competition and Jesse Owens dominating the competition.
Owens won a gold medal in the long jump and 4x100m relay, but the most talked about moments came from the 200m and 100m sprints. Owens would win both events, and the image of him at the top of the podium saluting the American flag remains one of the most iconic photos in sports history. Hitler even went as far as to try and ban people of African descent from the Olympics, but fortunately failed in his efforts.
Miracle On Ice
There’s only one entrant on the list from the Winter Olympics and it’s still the most memorable moment in the games’ history. In the 1980 edition of the Winter Olympics, the Soviet Union was the heavy favorite in the ice hockey tournament. After all, the Soviets were sending professional players that were considered world-class while most other countries were sending amateur players.
The United States, which hosted the tournament, was among the countries sending amateurs. In the medal round, the two countries would face off. After the first period, the teams had each scored a pair of goals. The Soviets netted the only goal of the second period, but the Americans rebounded with two goals late in the game to give them the massive 4-3 upset victory. The United States went on to win the gold to defeat Finland in its final game.
Flo-Jo Makes Headlines
Florence Griffith Joyner was one of the most celebrated Olympians ever thanks to her fantastic performance at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Known affectionately as Flo-Jo to her fans around the world, Griffith Joyner smashed records on her way to the Olympics. She claimed gold in the 4x100m relay while also winning the 200m and 100m sprints like Jesse Owens did in 1936.
Flo-Jo was on the cover of every magazine and Wheaties box throughout the United States, becoming an ambassador for sports in the United States. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed Griffith Joyner as the Co-chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Unfortunately, Griffith Joyner passed away in 1998 at just 38 years old after suffering an epileptic seizure.
Usain Bolt Steals The Show
People are fascinated by the fastest things in the world, whether they be cars, planes, animals, or humans. We’ve already pointed out just how much the world was captivated by the blinding speed of Jesse Owens and Florence Griffith Joyner, but Usain Bolt may have surpassed both of them in terms of popularity. The Jamaican sprinter burst onto the scene at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Bolt claimed the gold medal in both the 100m and 200m races, setting expectations just as high for the subsequent Olympics. At the 2016 Summer Olympics, Bolt tied the individual record for gold medals in running-only events with his eighth. Bolt won his third-consecutive golds in the 100m and 200m races while also winning his second 4x100m relay gold medal. Every medal that Bolt won in his Olympic career was gold.
Michael Phelps Sets New Record
The amount of gold medals that Bolt has is nothing compared to the amount of American swimmer Michael Phelps. The previous record for most gold medals by an Olympian was nine, with Larisa Latynina, Paavo Nurmi, Mark Spitz, and Carl Lewis all holding that record. However, Phelps smashed the record and finished his Olympic career with twenty-three gold medals.
Phelps won gold medals in four consecutive Olympics, but the 2008 Summer Games was when Phelps was at his best. In front of the Beijing crowd, Phelps won a whopping eight gold medals to give him the career record, including three in freestyle, three in medley, and two in butterfly. Phelps continued his dominance after the 2008 games, winning four golds in London and five in Rio de Janeiro.