Every four years, the world tries to put aside its regular problems and come together for the Olympics. The pageantry, the drama, the triumphs, the heartbreak, the upsets and the controversies all help create indelible moments and images that not only stay with us as we witness them, but live through the ages because of the impact of the moment. In honor of the Summer Olympics in London MARKet Share, reviews the Top 10 Most Powerful Summer Olympic Moments.
10 – 1972 Men’s Basketball – The gold medal game featured the USSR playing against the USA. Down two points with one second left, the USSR was granted a timeout they didn’t have and allowed to inbound the ball for a last chance shot. After that failed the US thought they won. They didn’t. The officials said there should have been three seconds on the clock, allowed the USSR to re-inbound the ball and didn’t allow the USA to defend the pass. The USSR scored and won. The USA protested by not showing up at the medal ceremony and leaving that part of the podium bare.
9 – 1976 Women’s Gymnastics – At the age of 14, Romanian athlete Nadia Comaneci changed the face of gymnastics forever with her performance at the Montreal Olympics. The perfect ten she received for her routine on the uneven bars was the first time in Olympic gymnastics history that a perfect score was ever awarded. Nadia would go on to earn six additional perfect tens on her way to winning three individual gold medals, an individual bronze medal and helping her team earn silver.
8 – 2008 Men’s Swimming – For an elite athlete, coming into an event with a lot of hype behind you can lead to crushing failures when expectations aren’t met. On the other hand, exceeding expectations is exactly what Michael Phelps had in mind in Beijing in 2008. Michael’s performance in the pool in individual and relay events earned him eight gold medals, surpassing the 36 year old record held by American swimmer Mark Spitz and winning more gold medals in a single Olympics than had ever been done before.
7 – 2000 Men’s Swimming – In contrast, when an athlete has few expectations, surpassing them makes the moment all the more special. Invited to compete as a “wildcard” provision that allowed athletes from developing countries to compete, Eric Moussambani had never swam in a pool as big as the one he did in Sydney. He expected to lose his 100 m freestyle heat and be happy for the opportunity. However, his competitors false started leaving Eric to swim the heat alone. With poor form, struggling to finish and a time double that of other swimmers in the competition, Eric won just by being there.
6 – 1968 Track and Field – You know you’ve gone beyond not only your competition but the sport itself when they have to change the field because of you. In Mexico City, Bob Beamon broke the long jump world record by nearly two feet, landing further than the measuring equipment. After a few minutes to figure out how far he actually leapt, Beamon collapsed when he found out and was so overcome with emotion he was unable to stand.
5 – 2012 Women’s Gymnastics – When you come into the Olympics as the reigning world champion, the expectation for success is a given. This is why failure is so shattering to watch. Fresh off her Sports Illustrated cover appearance with the rest of her team, Jordyn Weiber was considered a lock to compete in the all around finals in London. However, Jordyn failed to qualify, leaving her devastated as her entire career had been pointed at this one goal. The images of her crying after she learned the results will resonate with any parent who has ever cheered their child on.
4 – 1996 Women’s Gymnastics – Nothing like a battle with your arch-enemy going down to the final moments to get the juices flowing. In Atlanta, the US and Russia were neck and neck in the team gymnastics competition, an event the US had never won gold in. After two poor vaults by Dominique Moceanu left the US on the brink of losing, Kerri Strug stepped up to the mat as the team’s final hope. Kerri missed her landing on the first vault, injuring her ankle and earning a poor score. Knowing if she didn’t vault again, the team would miss gold for sure, Kerri limped to the mat once again. She landed her vault on one foot and had to be carried off with tendon damage. Oh yeah, she cinched the gold for America.
3 – 2008 Track and Field – Typically, most people put more pressure on themselves than is put upon them from the outside world. When you’re a world record holder, you get it from both places. In Beijing, Usain Bolt didn’t disappoint. Already owning the world record in the 100 m race before the Olympics, Usain blew the competition away, not only winning gold but beating his own world record as well. In the 200 m race, he beat the standing world record and won gold again becoming the first sprinter to hold both world records simultaneously since the introduction of electronic timing.
2 – 1992 Track and Field – After all the training, practice and coaching, it eventually has to come down to the athlete and his performance. In Barcelona, Derek Redmond of Great Britain was ready for his 400 m race. After a great start though, Derek’s hamstring popped sending him to the track. Ignoring officials who told him to stay down and in obvious pain, he got up and continued, hopping and struggling around the track so he could try and finish. Knowing his son was in trouble, Derek’s dad came out of the stands, got past security and joined his son to support him while he finished.
1 – 1936 Track and Field – At the Olympics, hopes are high for every athlete but none more so than those of the host country. And in Berlin, with Hitler proclaiming the superiority of the Aryan athlete, there was no more powerful Olympic moment than to see his visions shattered by Jesse Owens. Jesse, being black, was nearly everything Hitler loathed and his victories were so humiliating and enraging to Hitler, he stopped attending medal ceremonies so he wouldn’t have to shake hands with Owens.
Agree? Disagree? What are your most powerful Olympic moments? Sound off in the comments below.