Every two years, unless cancelled by war or postponed by a pandemic, the Olympics comes along.
And with each Olympics comes new moments that are remembered for decades to come.
With the Olympics starting this past weekend, it got me thinking about some of my favorite memories or most memorable moments of the Olympics that I remember watching in my lifetime.
Growing up, I loved the Olympics. It didn’t matter what event or if it was summer or winter. Not much has really changed either because every two years (or three during pandemics), I can’t seem to get enough of watching them.
I think that one of the things I’ve always appreciated so much about the Olympics is how all the training and preparation for the athletes comes down to one day or event or minute every four years. And for some events, like the 100m, it comes down to just 10 seconds!
Of course, there is also the emotional side of representing your country on the world stage as well as the appreciation of some athletes achieving their dream just by making it to the Olympics.
There have been a lot of great moments over the years in the Olympics, but since this is a running blog, here are my most memorable Olympic athletes or moments in running events:
Derek Redmond (Great Britain)// In the semi-final heat of the men’s 400 meter race at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, Redmond pulled up with about 250 meters left in the race with a torn hamstring. Down on the track while the other competitors finished the race, he then got up and started hobbling his way towards the finish line. Then, his father came out of the crowd to help him across the finish line as he cried on his shoulder.
Even though, officially, Redmond was disqualified from the race because he needed assistance to finish, this still gives me chills every time I see it!
Michael Johnson (USA)// Still the only male to win the 400 meter in back-to-back Olympics (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000) and to win both the 200m and 400m in the same Olympics (Atlanta). But what might be the most memorable thing about Johnson is his upright running style and of course the gold running spikes that he wore in Atlanta for his events.
Usain Bolt (Jamaica)// Every time he went to the starting line of a race, especially at the Olympics, it seemed like the result was not in question. Not short on confidence, Bolt won the gold medal in the 100m and 200m at three straight Olympics (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016). In addition, he won the gold medal in 2012 and 2016 as part of the 4 x 100m Jamaican relay team. He took part in nine Olympic events during his career and won gold in 8 of them.
The most memorable things about him to me were his ‘bolt’ pose and some of his finish line photos, where he is celebrating before crossing the line!
Deena Kastor (USA)// In 2004 in Athens, Kastor became the first American woman to medal in the Olympic marathon since the first time the event was held in 1984. Aside from the historical side of it, I remember watching her reaction as she crossed the finish line in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. A stadium with such a great history as it hosted most of the events of the first modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens.
Each time I see the video clip of her finishing the race, I think of all these things combined – the American history in the marathon, the history of the stadium and also the emotion of completing a marathon.
Vanderlei De Lima (Brazil)// Also at the 2004 Games in Athens, De Lima was in 1st place of the men’s marathon with a little more than 4 miles left (about 7km), when a man ran on the course and pushed De Lima into the crowd of spectators lining the course. The incident caused De Lima to slow down and eventually fall to 3rd place over the final 4 miles. Having run a few marathons now myself, it’s very difficult to imagine being slowed down or stopped like that and still continuing to finish the race.
What remains the most memorable part of De Lima’s race to me though is when he entered the stadium to finish the race. He was very appreciative of the crowd and finished the race with a smile on his face, becoming the first (and still the only) Brazilian man or woman to medal in the Olympic marathon!
We are only a few days into this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo, but hopefully there will be a few more memories that we’ll remember for a long time!
I’m sure that you have your own most memorable Olympic moments based on your age and where you are from. I’d love to hear what your favorite memories are from watching the Olympics – and they don’t have to just be running-related!