This will probably be skewed to later Olympic Games. If I were alive in 1968, Bob Beamon’s long jump might be one of mine or in 1912 watching Jim Thorpe dominate the decathalon.
My three are naturally biased toward track and field. And no, I’m not this old.
Jesse Owens rubbing Hitler’s face in it. 4 Golds
Emil Zatopek. Only runner to win the 5,000m, 10,000m and the marathon in a single Olympiad. His first marathon and a world record.
I rather enjoyed Team France putting it to Team North Korea today in woman’s soccer. 70 minutes of nothing (1 to 0 in favor of France) then France scored 4 more goals in 20 minutes.
NK was dumbfounded in the 5 - 0 loss to France.
The Miracle on Ice (American Ice Hockey team defeats USSR team) was rather great too.
Miracle on Ice
Franz Klammer 1976 Downhill
Dan Jansen winning the 1000 meter speed skating in Lillehammer 1994
A friend winning bronze in 1992 in Barcelona and a silver in 1996 in Atlanta in K-1.
For me (listing only things I’ve actually seen live):
Dick Fosbury winning the high jump in 1968
Eric Heiden at Lake Placid.
Surya Bonaly doing a back flip in the in the showcase figure skating program and landing it on one foot (the reason why the back flip is not allowed is that the judges say that you have to land on one foot, and it’s impossible to do that with a back flip. Right.)
Michael Phelps 1/100 second win in the 2008 Olympics to keep his gold-medal goal alive.
2000 Men’s Baseball, where America won. The “Miracle on the Diamond”, though not quite as unlikely as the miracle on ice.
- also the most underrated Olympic moment by most Americans.
- 2010 Olympic Ice Hockey finals - Painful memory, but it was great that USA took on Canada for the final and that Canada pulled it off in Vancouver.
Miracle on Ice
Finland-Sweden Ice hockey final 2006
2010 USA-Canada ice hockey final
I have a vast preference for winter olympics and winter sports.
Greg Joy, Canadian high-jumper, winning silver in Montreal (we didn’t have much to cheer about in those Games)
Beckie Scott, Canadian cross-country skier, won bronze in Salt Lake City. The two Russians who beat her crossed the finish line in relatively good shape while Scott had completely exhausted herself and collapsed in a heap, gasping for breath and too spent to care about the snot running down her face. It was a really inspiring effort. Later, she was presented with the silver medal after the second place finisher was disqualified for doping. Even later still, the winner was also disqualified and Scott was awarded the gold. Besides being the first North American woman to win a cross-country medal, she must be the only athlete ever to have been presented with all three medals for the same race.
Elizabeth Manley in Calgary. I’m not a figure skating fan, but as she was skating, even I could tell that it was the performance of her life. It was only good enough for silver even though she outclassed the reserved, calculated performance of Katarina Witt.
Derek Redmond getting injured and his father (who was also his coach) carrying him to help him finish the race. Watched that live, cried like a baby.
Kerri Strug sticking that vault. If someone wrote that in a movie script, I’d think it was completely hokey.
Dan Jansen finally winning. I felt terrible for him competing in the Olympics while dealing with the recent death of his sister. I was so happy for him when he finally won four years later, and took the victory lap with his baby girl, named after his sister.
This. Manley was the true champion and everyone on the planet knew it. I, too, am nofigure skating fan in part because of the very corruption that ensured Manley could only win silver, but she put on the performance of a thousand lifetimes. It was awe-inspiring; she elevated her game not only above anything she’d ever done before, but above the field by miles and miles and miles. That is was done on home soil, and was in fact the host country’s highlight of the Games, just adds to how brilliant it was.
Witt’s gold doesn’t count, a bullshit medal given to a bullshit country for bullshit reasons. Liz Manley was the 1988 Olypic champion and everyone knows it, including the judges.
In terms of moments I’ve seen, by other two would be
The 2010 hockey final: “Crosby, with the golden goal!”
Derek Redmond. How wonderful, how heartbreaking, how poignant. A lifetime of sport, summed up in that moment. An athlete not of my country most people had never heard of, failing, and yet winning. There have been a lot of moments like this, really; I wrote a few years ago of a Czech skiier at Vancouver who fell flat on her face and instead of skiing off the course, she struggled to her feet, got herself set, and completed the race, because by Christ they sent her to the Olympics and she was going to finish that race. But Redmond was the most stirring example.
Derek Redmond, incidentally, was officially disqualified in that race. But we all know that’s a mistake. He finished. Dead last, but he finished.
In terms of moments I did not see:
- The Miracle On Ice. It’s hard to top this, really.
- Blood In The Water.
Surya Bonaly and her crazy backflip!
Kerri Strug and the Mag7.
Greg Louganis whacking his head on the diving board. (I cried.)
Muhammad Ali lighting the torch.
The 9/11 tribute at the Salt Lake games.
Eddie the Eagle!
Laura Wilkinson’s unlikely diving gold medal.
Can’t just pick three!
Rafer Johnson lighting the torch.
Miracle on Ice.
Gabriela Andersen-Schiess in the 1984 women’s marathon
2010 USA vs Canada ice hockey final
2008 Beijing Opening Ceremonies.
Moments that just stick in my memory, for some reason
Franz Klaumer’s winning run, right on the ragged edge of control, and maybe just a bit beyond.
Katerina Witt’s post-competition exhibition performance- a sexy dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Bad”. A sharp contrast to the very staid and limiting music and competition requirements then in force.
The silver medalist evaluating her performance: " No, nothing went wrong with my run. Rosie Mittermyer is just better than I am, that’s all." Beautiful - and rare - expression of sportsmanship.
1968 games, this clip shows the arrival in the stadium of John Stphen Akwhari, a Tanzanian marathon runner, the last to finish. The absolute best Olympic moment, to me anyway.
The Italian bobsledder Eugenio Monti didn’t have to lend the British team that bobsled bolt, but he did, in the 1964 games
And this Canadian sailor gave up a chance for a medal, to save lives.
Manley was too far behind after the short program to get the gold, even though she skated the best long program.
He’s a jackrabbit compared to Shizo Kanakuri, who finished the 1912 (Stockholm) marathon in 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.379 seconds.
I can still see the look of pure joy on her face when she finished. It was a classic Olympic moment.
I don’t know exactly how the scoring works in figure skating, but it’s hard to believe that Manley’s skate wasn’t enough to overtake Witt (they were third and second, respectively, going in). Witt might have skated technically well, but it was dull and uninspired, certainly not what people watch figure skating for.
Usain Bolt celebrating with 5m to go in the 100m in '08.
Kerri Strug’s 2nd vault
I’m too young to have seen the Miracle on Ice. Other moments would be the original Dream Team on the medal stand, Michael Johnson’s 200m WR, and Dan Jansen’s gold in '94 (and falls in '88). Last, the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. I was at my cousin’s wedding rehearsal dinner that night, and we all got back to the hotel to watch some Olympics, and nothing was going on.