O is for Olympic Observations

I’ve watched a lot of Olympic Games over the years. Somehow, though, they are starting to run together in my mind. What year was it that Sarah Hughes won the women’s figure skating finals, after being in fourth place after the short program? It was 2002, but I couldn’t have told you this without looking it up.

So here are my now fading recollections, without checking sources except to verify that my memory was in fact correct.

1896 Summer: Athens, Greece – obviously, I don’t remember the specific event – how old do you think I am? – but I do recall that this was the beginning of the modern Games
1904 Summer: St. Louis, MO, United States – the debacle that Shooting Parrots mentioned
1936 Summer: Berlin, Germany – this will always be the Jesse Owens (pictured) Olympics for me, with Hitler’s assertion of a master race being shattered
1948 Summer: London, United Kingdom – I must admit that I learned much about the still bombed out city holding the first summer Games since the end of World War II from NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Games

1960 Winter: Squaw Valley, CA, United States – I don’t specifically remember these games, but I do recall the disastrous plane crash in Belgium the following February that wiped out the entire 1961 U.S. World Figure Skating Team
1960 Summer: Rome, Italy – I remember Cassius Clay losing or throwing away his heavyweight championship gold medal after these Games when returning to a still segregated US
1968 Winter: Grenoble, France – ski racer Jean-Claude Killy
1968 Summer: Mexico City, Mexico – the black power salute of Carlos and Smith; also, Bob Beamon’s record long jump
1972 Summer: Munich, West Germany – of course, the killing of Israeli athletes; to this day, I’m still crushed by Jim McKay’s “they’re all gone.” Plus, Mark Spitz’s seven gold medals in swimming
1976 Summer: Montreal, Canada – Bruce Jenner won the decathalon. Beyond that, a number of African countries boycotted the Games because of the participation of apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia.

1980 Winter: Lake Placid, NY, United States – the US beat the USSR in the men’s hockey semifinals, then Finland in the finals.
1980 Summer: Moscow, Soviet Union – 65 nations boycotted because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
1984 Summer: Los Angeles, CA, United States – The Soviet Union and 14 of its Eastern Bloc partners boycotted in response to actions four years earlier
1988 Winter: Calgary, AB, Canada – (pictured) Katerina Witt’s second straight Olympic title in figure skating “matching the same feat performed by Norway’s Sonja Henie”
1992 Summer: Barcelona, Spain – the US basketball “Dream Team” of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and other NBA stars
1994 Winter: Lillehammer, Norway – that soap opera involving Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly hiring a goon to kneecap female figure skater Nancy Kerrigan; Ukraine’s Oksana Baiul beat Kerrigan, with Harding finishing eighth.
1996 Summer: Atlanta, GA, United States – I less remember the Games than the bomb detonated at the Centennial Olympic Park, which killed two and injured over 100 others. Some poor security guard named Richard Jewell came under suspicion. The bomb was actually set by Eric Rudolph, who is currently serving a life sentence for the bombing. One of the local (Albany, NY area) reporters covering the Olympics, Chris Kapostasy (later Jansing, when she moved to NBC/MSNBC in 1998), won a New York Emmy Award in 1997 for her coverage of the bombing.
1998 Winter: Nagano, Japan – Michelle Kwan had been winning World Championships in women’s figure skating, yet lost to [I had to look it up] Tara Lipinski in the Olympic finals

2008 Summer: Beijing, China – this was the Michael Phelps eight gold medals in swimming event. The great concern beforehand was the air quality, which, thanks to good weather, wasn’t as bad as feared.

I’m sure there are other bits that you will remind me of…

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

Image of Witt was originally posted to Flickr by zipckr at http://flickr.com/photos/7363465@N08/3439530032. It was reviewed on 03:15, 26 August 2011 (UTC) by FlickreviewR, who found it to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-2.0, which is compatible with the Commons. It is, however, not the same license as given above, and it is unknown whether that license ever was valid.

0 thoughts on “O is for Olympic Observations”

  1. I’m the same way about not remembering which year but having memories from many Olympics. I wasn’t alive for Jesse Owens but his win is the one I’ll always remember due to that lunatic Hitler and the year he won.


  2. The first Olympics I really watched as a child was 1972. I remember the bombing headlines. And who doesn’t remember the hockey victory in 1980?! The Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan debacle put a bit of a black eye on figure skating, but it was such an isolated incident. I remember eras in gymnastics with little Nadia Comeneci’s perfect 10, and powerhouse Mary Lou Retton. But above all, I applaud and marvel at the athleticism and beauty of the human form in motion during these games.


  3. My favorite memory is of the 1980 Mens Hockey Team taking the gold!!!We were jumping around like crazy. And who could forget the Winter Olympics when Dorothy Hamill started a fad with her “bob” haircut when she won the gold medal and every girl wanted to be her.


  4. Funny, most of my Olympic memories are Canadian, and fill some strange gaps in yours. 2002 Utah, where our hockey team beat the US thanks in part to the mojo from the Loonie we sneakily imbedded in the rink at centre ice. 2010 in Vancouver, where we did it again!


  5. Great memories. I still remember the 1972 Olympics because of the murders and to this day not understanding why there isn’t/wasn’t a moment of silence to their memories at subsequent games…


  6. They do indeed tend to blur together. Apart from the major incidents and the icons of sport, I suppose it isn’t surprising that we tend to remember ‘our own’. So for me it’s the likes of Mary Peters, David Hemery, Lynn Davies, Daly Thompson. Steve Ovett and Steve Redgrave. And even those who were glorious failures!


  7. Oh, I know a few who could play this Olympic memory game with you, but not me! I’ve been a player my whole life, and a lousy spectator. My step-father (with whom I grew up from the age of 2) was in his youth a sports writer and I think he went to every Olympic games… I recognize some of the names and events you list, but could never list them myself. Well done, Roger!


  8. I was never interested in Olympic games, but this year I couldn’t miss it ! I was sitting in the Eurostar together with a bunch of athletes the day before the opening of the games in London ! I tell you I was quiet surprised when I was greated with flags and music and “welcome” signs ! Never had happened to me before when I went to London 🙂 !


  9. I’m not sure why but I could only remember a few of the events you mention. The bombing and the Kerrigan thing, yes…and the U.S. men’s hockey team, but I’m sure I saw many more than that. Life just gets too long to remember everything I suppose.


  10. How could we forget Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya all to be followed with Eric Rudolph! That was just terrible! My husband worked in N.C. for awhile. The kids and I would often travel to see him and stay in a company mountain house. It turns out that Eric Rudolph was hiding on that mountain and stealing food from our mountain house. It’s all a little CREEPY!!! think about.


  11. Wish I had your memory capacity! Can imagine that it serves yo well in your job! The only thing which I remembered 1972, because not only did Mark Spitz won so many medals, but at that time I lived in Holl., so the murders at the Olympics were just a few hours from where I lived.


  12. wow, thanks for that trip down memory lane! I don’t generally watch the olympics, because the first one I remember was ’72, and as an Israeli family that had come to America only 3 years before, it was very hard for us…but I do also remember Mark Spitz, and all the other moments you mentioned. we were very into the gymnastics, and often went to see Nadia and Kurt Thomas when they would compete. thanks for sharing!


  13. Roger, thanks for this trip down what Lex calls “Amnesia Lane”!

    My most stunning Olympic moment was Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board. This was in the early days of AIDS, perhaps before it was even called HIV. Nowadays, all medical personnel use gloves and best practices routinely (and it’s helped reduce infections in hospitals, too). But back then, I knew Greg was a gay man, and his risk of outing himself versus the remote chance that someone could be infected… I mean, a person would have had to hold their own bleeding would against his for a prolonged period of time, that’s how fragile the virus is… anyway, that’s my memory.

    Also, the first time I saw curling. Interesting sport, predicated on a healthy knowledge of physics, as with bocce and pool! Glad to be home, Amy


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