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The 10 greatest moments in Olympic history

by Sean Goff | July 7, 2012
Michael Phelps

THE BALTIMORE BULLET: Michael Phelps stunned the world at the Beijing Olympics in 2008

By Lee Dover

After trawling through the history books, watching hour after hour of video reels and just thinking back to where we were when a moment was captured, our list of the top 10 moments in Olympic history has come to fruition.

Join us on this walk down memory lane:

1. Athens 1896: James Connolly – the innovator of athletics

What better place to start our countdown than with a look all the way back to the first day of the very first Olympic Games –Athens1896.

Unless you’re travelling through a time machine, there’s a good chance you will not be able to actually recall where you were on this date.

But when James Connolly hopped, skipped and jumped to a gold medal in the triple jump, the greatest sporting event in the world began chapter one of its fabled history.

2. Sydney 2000: Sir Steve steps into Olympics folklore

Fast forward more than a century and we come to a man who many consider to be the greatest British Olympian to have ever lived,  Steve Redgrave.

When the Brit picked up his paddle for the first time in 1984, fans would not have realised that a legend was born.

Redgrave would go on to become only the third athlete in Olympic history to win gold at five consecutive Games, and did so in such a tough endurance sport like rowing.

3. Rome 1960: A legend is born

Before he was the dominating Muhammad Ali, flying like a butterfly and stinging like a bee in the boxing ring, Cassius Clay was just a teenager looking for fame and glory at Rome in 1960.

Even at the tender age of 18 though, Clay had enough venom in his fist and fire in his belly to outfox Zbigniew Pietrzykowski and win Olympic gold.

It was a memorable victory for American boxing. But this was only the start for one of sport’s most enduring icons.

4. Barcelona 1992: Starting the Games with a bang

Memorable moments do not always come from just the competiors – the opening ceremony is a platform on which a host city is measured.

Barcelona knew how to throw a party in 1992 when they had paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo fire an arrow that passed inch-perfect over a strategically-placed cauldron to ignite the Olympic flame. Stunning.

5. Munich 1972: Mark Spitz chews up the competition

Mark Spitz certainly promised his American supporters a little too much when he vowed to win six titles at the 1968 Olympic Games and only came home with two.

Perhaps though, the American was meaning to say that he would achieve that at Munich1972 – the little things you can mix up, eh?

Spitz owned the swimming pool at Munich1972 when he became the first Olympian to win seven gold medals at a single Games, overshadowing everyone who tried to get in his way.

6. Beijing 2008: Michael Phelps becomes the new king of the pool

While Spitz was the undisputed king of the swimming pool during the 1970s, Michael Phelps proved that he could go one better once he dived into Beijing’s water in 2008.

The monster was unleashed on August 10th 2008 when the American won gold at the sprint freestyle relay.

Like a shark smelling blood, Phelps swept aside all foes to claim gold at a further seven events that year and broke world record after world record.

7. Tokyo 1964: Dawn Fraser digs deep to achieve success

The Olympics has always had memorable stories surrounding many of its athletes, with Dawn Fraser’s tale possibly the most inspirational of them all.

Her dream of fame and glory on the grandest stage in sport seemed in tatters when she was involved in a car crash seven months before Tokyo 1964 in which her mother died. Fraser suffered a chipped vertebra.

The swimmer overcame her heartbreak though and became the first person to win three individual gold medals in a row at the same event, the 100 metres freestyle. Inspirational.

8. Atlanta 1996: Michael Johnson breaks records for fun

Needless to say it’s not easy to break world and Olympic records in athletics – try running 100 metres quicker than 9.58 seconds or jumping 8.95 metres.

However, Michael Johnson must have cracked the formula, when he set a new Olympic record time in the 400 metres at Atlanta 1996.

Four nights later and the gold-shoed whippet was back on the athletics track for even more fun. This time he broke the world record by running 200 metres in just 19.32 seconds.

9. Barcelona 1992: Linford Christie breaks from the norm

The Olympics 100-metre sprint had been dominated by Americans for decades.

Up until the 1992 Games, our cousins across the Atlantic had won the competition 15 times out of 32 attempts.

Linford Christie must have been getting sick of seeing Americans on the top step of the medal rostrum, as he outpaced the rest of the field to ride to glory in Barcelona at the ripe old age of 32.

10. Beijing 2008: A Thunderbolt strikes

Word had spread long before the 2008 Olympic Games that Usain Bolt was a man to watch on the sprint track.

Good thing the world listened, as the Jamaican absolutely wiped the floor with his challengers when he blitzed to a trio of gold medals in Beijing.

Now we are not ones for show-offs, but the fact that Bolt was celebrating before the finish line in the 100 metres and still broke the world record for the event just leaves us in awe of this guy.


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