Analysis. History. Perspective.

Sports Then and Now



A Look Back at the 1996 Summer Olympics 24

Posted on July 20, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Muhammad Ali lights the torch to start the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Atlanta was a surprise selection to host the Centennial Olympic Games in the summer of 1996, as many observers believed that the Games should be held in Athens, Greece since the inaugural games were held there in 1896.

But thanks to lobbying from former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, Atlanta was chosen to host the Centennial Games on September 18, 1990.

Nearly six years later, the city hosted the opening ceremonies in front of 85, 000 fans at Centennial Olympic Stadium (now Turner Field).

The ceremonies ended in dramatic fashion with 1960 Olympic Gold Medalist Muhammad Ali, lighting the Olympic Torch, signifying the start of the Games.
Ali would receive a replacement gold medal for the one he lost, at halftime of the men’s basketball gold medal game.

As far as the competition was concerned, the Americans were expected to dominate the medal count as this would be the first Olympics with the former countries of the Soviet Union participating as individual countries.

The individual with the highest expectations entering these Olympics was U.S. sprinter Michael Johnson, who was trying to become the first man to win the 200-meter and 400-meter races in the same Olympiad.

Johnson had performed this feat at the 1995 Track & Field World Championships, and one month earlier, he broke the world record in the 200 m with a time of 19.66 seconds.

Michael Johnson stunned himself and the rest of the world with his 19.32 run in the 200 meters.

Wearing golden shoes, Johnson won the 400 m with an Olympic record time of 43.49 seconds, and then won the 200 m with by shattering his own world record, running that race in a remarkable 19.32 seconds.

It was redemption for Johnson who had entered the 1992 Olympics as the favorite to win the 200 meters, but failed to qualify for the final heat.

Johnson was not the only U.S. Olympian to pull off a historic feat in Atlanta as U.S. swimmer Amy Van Dyken became the first woman to win four gold medals at the same Olympiad.

Van Dyken won two individual races, the 50m freestyle and the 100m butterfly, and was part of the 4 x 100 meter freestyle relay and the 4 x 100 meter medley relay in earning her four gold medals.

Van Dyken’s performance came in a banner Olympics for American woman, as the woman’s basketball, softball, soccer, and gymnastics teams all won gold medals. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rocky Colavito: Super Slugger
      March 30, 2020 | 7:24 pm
      Rocky Colavito

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was just the fifth player in Major League Baseball history to have 11 straight seasons with 20 or more home runs, yet could not sustain that greatness long enough to earn a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

      In some sense, the legend of Rocco “Rocky” Colavito Jr. began long before he ever started pounding home runs at the major league level.

      Born and raised as a New York Yankees fan in The Bronx, Colavito was playing semipro baseball before he was a teenager and dropped out of high school at 16 after his sophomore year to pursue a professional career. The major league rule at the time said a player could not sign with a pro team until his high school class graduated, but after sitting out for one year, Colavito was allowed to sign at age 17.

      Read more »

    • RSSArchive for Vintage Athlete of the Month »
  • Follow Us Online

  • Check out the best free bets at freebets4all. Learn how to convert online bookmakers free bets into guaranteed cash using the matched betting technique.

  • Current Poll

    Should the Houston Astros Forfeit the 2017 World Series Title?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...
  • Post Categories



↑ Top