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Great Moments in Olympic History

Sprinter Michael Johnson made history at the 1996 Games by setting world records in the 100m and 200m.
Michael Johnson

We're kicking off the Beijing Olympics by taking a look at some of the most memorable moments in Summer Olympics' history. Check it out to see if any of your faves made the cut.

Memorable Moments in Olympic History

  • 1900 - Women are first allowed to compete in the Olympics, though only in tennis, golf, and croquet.
  • 1936 - In the 1936 Berlin Games, American black man, Jesse Owens, stepped into hostile territory and earned the respect of the German crowd that included notorious dictator Adolf Hitler. Owens earned four track and field gold medals and was regarded as the greatest sprinter of that era.
  • 1948 - Alice Coachman becomes the first African American female to win an Olympic event. Coachman won gold in the high jump during the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
  • 1968 - The 1968 Mexico City Games occurred around the time of the Civil rights movement. Who could forget the image of 200m gold medal winner, Tommie Smith, along with bronze medalist John Carlos, raised their black-gloved fists during the medal ceremony to promote black civil rights? Also in '68, American long jumper, Bob Beamon soared 8.9m (over 29 feet) to win gold and set a new world record!
  • 1972 - Probably one of the greatest basketball moments in Olympic history happened at the 1972 Munich Game. Down by one with just four seconds left, the Soviet Union scored a buzzer beater to top the U.S.A. for the gold medal.
  • 1976 - Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci stole the show at the 1976 Montreal Games with her history-making performance. At just 14-years-old, Nadia recorded the first perfect 10 mark on the asymmetric bars in Olympic history.
  • 1984 - In front of his hometown fans, American track and field star Carl Lewis turned the 1984 Los Angeles Games into his own personal showcase. He won four gold medals and was regarded s the best track athlete since Jesse Owens.
  • 1988 - Florence Griffith Joyner aka Flo-Jo dazzled the whole world with her lightning sped at the 1988 Seoul Games. The American sprinter won three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay. The '88 games also saw Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson get stripped of his gold medal in the 100m after testing positive for steroids.
  • 1992 - The 1992 Barcelona Olympics belonged to the Dream Team - the U.S. basketball squad that featured Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. The Dream Team steamrolled past the competition and defeated opponents by an average margin of 43.8 points per game.
  • 1996 - With his gold shoes, Michael Johnson ran his way straight to gold and to the record books at the 1996 Atlanta. MJ shattered the 200m and 400m world records in front of his home country! Legendary boxer Mohammad Ali also provided a great Olympic moment when he surprised everybody by lighting the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremonies.
  • 2004 - The 2004 Athens Olympics belonged to an American 19-year-old swimmer by the name of Michael Phelps. The swimming sensation was a record eight gold medals and did it in effortless fashion.

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