One choice I disagree with is the "Dream Team. " Not that they weren't a great team, they were. The Dream Team was chosen to represent their country. Instead, most of the team was in Barcelona to represent themselves. They didn't stay in the Olympic Village, citing security concerns. Oh, no, they stayed in a luxury hotel in downtown Barcelona. What I found to be most disgusting was the actions of some of the players during the medal ceremony. Michael Jordan and several other members came to the podium to receive their medals wearing their warmup suits, and they had American flags draped over their shoulders. For love of country? Nope. To cover the Reebok logo on the chest, because their endorsement deals were with other companies. Shameful.
Enough ranting, onto my list. In no particular order...
Billy Mills, USA, Tokyo, 1964. Mills, a Native American and a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, was second in the US Olympic Trials in the 10K race. His qualifying times in Tokyo were a full minute behind world record holder Ron Clarke of Australia. During the final, Mills managed to keep up with the leaders, Clarke and Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia. In the final lap, Gammoudi and Mills had Clarke boxed in. Twice Clarke shoved Mills, knocking him off stride. Mills was quickly able to regain his stride and continue the race. In the final straightaway, Mills moved to the outside and sprinted to the finish in an Olympic Record time of 28:24.4, fifty seconds ahead of his fastest time. The video of the race focuses on Clarke and Gammoudi at the finish, as Mills goes by them. It's almost as if the cameraman didn't see Mills as he flew by the other runners. Mills also competed in the marathon, finishing 14th, with a time of 2:22:55.
Bob Beamon, USA, Mexico City, 1968. Twenty-two year old Bob Beamon prepared for the 1968 Olympics with teammate Ralph Boston informally coaching him. Beamon had been suspended from the University of Texas El Paso for refusing to compete in a meet against Brigham Young University, believing BYU had racist policies.
Beamon was one of the favorites in Mexico City. He nearly missed the final, having faulted on his first two jumps in the qualifying round. His third jump was long enough to get him into the finals. The jump pit was equipped with an optical measuring device but it wasn't in a position to measure a jump like Beamon's. After a manual measurement, the jump was announced as 8.9 meters, Beamon was unfazed. Not being familiar with metric measurements, Beamon was casual about it. It was only when teammate and part-time coach Ralph Boston told him that the jump was a world record 29 feet 2 1/2 inches did Beamon grasp the importance of his jump and collapsed, covering his face in amazement. Beamon held the world record in the long jump for 21 years. His ease and grace during his record jump is incredible to watch.
Shun Fujimoto, Japan, Montreal 1976. Fujimoto, a Japanese gymnast, fractured his patella during his floor exercise. He continued competing, his next event was the pommel horse. Following that, he went to the rings. After a near flawless routine, Fujimoto prepared to dismount from a height of eight feet. With a fractured patella, he "stuck" his landing and held his position. From the video, you can see that he was in obvious pain. Fujimoto knew he was seriously injured after the floor exercise, yet continued to compete because his team needed him.
Derek Redmond, Great Britian, Barcelona 1992. Redmond, a 400 meter runner and at the time, holder of the British record at the distance. His career was checkered with injuries,yet he battled through and still competed. In the 400 semi-finals in Barcelona, Redmond started out just fine. After coming through the first turn and nearing the halfway mark of the race, Redmond stood straight up, and began to hobble, grabbing his right leg. He fell to the track with a torn hamstring. Race officials ran to him, and he waved them off as he got back on his feet. Redmond continued his run. His father left the stands and joined his son. With his arm around his son, the approached the finish line. Redmond put his head on his dad's chest and began to sob. Together, father and son went on. As they neared the finish line, Redmond's dad stepped away to allow his son to finish on his own. Derek Redmond showed what the Olympic spirit was about. He showed pride and dignity in what may have been the worst moment in his life. Redmond taught a great lesson in perserverence, and showed the world that you don't have to win to be a champion.
Tommie Smith won the 200 meter gold medal, and John Carlos finished third, earning the bronze medal. During the medal ceremony, Smith and Carlos wore black socks, and no shoes. They each also wore a black glove, raising their hands in the "Black Power" salute during the National Anthem.
Tommie Smith refuted the Black Power salute, calling it instead a Human Rights Salute. Their protest was to bring light to the treatment of African Americans in America. Both athletes were banned from further participation in Mexico City by IOC Chairman Avery Brundage. Smith and Carlos voluntarily left the Athletes Village. It took an tremendous amount of courage for these two men to take this measure to bring attention to what was a serious wrong in our country.
The silver medalist, Australian Peter Norman, wore the same Olympic Project for Human Rights badge that Smith and Carlos wore.
It was not until many years later that Tommie Smith and John Carlos were honored for their controversial, but couragous actions in 1968.
I'm sure some of you can come up with more great Summer Olympic moments, but this is mine. I may take some abuse for including Tommie Smith and John Carlos, but leaving them out would be like ignoring the elephant in the room. It happened, it was controversial and it was courageous. Both men had to have known what the reaction to their action would be, yet the did it. History has shown them to be right, that they had reason to protest.
I have left out notable such as Michael Phelps, Marc Spitz, Michael Johnson and Carl Lewis. They were all expected to win, and they did. My list is for those who showed what the Olympic movement is about. My personal opinion of Carl Lewis is that he was a great athlete, but that Carl Lewis cared only about Carl Lewis.
There are some low-lights also. Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and his steroid use. The 2000 US 4x100 relay team and their muscle flexing and posing after winning the gold medal were denounced by just about everyone. Eastern Bloc countries used performance enhancing drugs for years...the list goes on.