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  • Top Ten Olympic Moments

       August 28, 2004

    I love the Olympics. I love the pageantry. I love the sob stories. I love the drama. I love the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. And, I love the hottie swimmers (okay, that's really just an excuse to post a picture here for our female readers).

    With the Athens Games winding down, it's only natural to be looking back at great moments in the games. These are my personal top ten. A couple of quick notes. First, these are only moments that I actually remember seeing, so no Jesse Owens, no Black Power, etc. And second, of course this list is full of mostly American moments. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm American. Of course I usually root for Americans. And, thanks to NBC's crappy coverage of the last few Olympics that's all I get to see.

    10. 1992 Barcelona: Olympic Flame Lighting. Yes, it was cool when Mohammed Ali lit the torch in '96, but it didn't compare to Barcelona's archer sending a flaming arrow into the cauldron. What flair and drama.

    9. 1988 Calgary: Eddie the Eagle & the Jamaican bobsledders Some of my favorite Olympic moments aren't about winning at all, they're about just having fun. I'd rather see people like these guys enjoying themselves than a parade of humorless teenage gymnasts.

    8. 1984 Sarajevo: Torvill & Dean's Bolero I'd argue that figure skating isn't a sport, but a competition. But, even so, you'd have to made of stone to not appreciate this performance. It's the only time I can recall sports becoming art. While it's heartbreaking to think about what happened to Sarajevo after the games, this moment in time was absolutely perfect.

    7. 2004: Athens: Women's Soccer Gold Medal Ceremony I don't care at all about soccer, but this was great. The entire team stands in the middle of the stadium as the national anthem starts to play. Soon they're all belting it out at the top of their lungs. These are incredible athletes, but singers they're not. But no one cares. Once again, this is just about athletes having fun, being happy and appreciating the moment.

    6. 1994 Lillehammer: Canada v. Sweden gold medal hockey game When you're a boy in America you dream of either being at bat, bases loaded, 2 outs, bottom of the ninth in game 7 of the World Series or being the quarterback in the Super Bowl, down by 6 on your own 20 with one minute left. I'd imagine that a Swedish & Canadian equivalent would be a shootout in the gold medal hockey game. That's what these guys got. Tommy Salo stopped Paul Kariya and then Peter Forsberg scored the winner against Sean Burke. One of those two combos is on a stamp in Sweden now. Can you imagine being the poor Canadian who has to have one of the worst moments of their life immortalized like that?

    5. 1984 Los Angeles: Touch of Class wins showing jumping gold Touch of Class was a tiny bay thoroughbred mare (for those that don't know, most jumpers aren't thoroughbreds). She has a brief racing career and then was turned into a jumper. Her rider, Joe Fargis was quite tall and it was always comical to see this tall, tall man on this little horse. She and Fargis won both individual and team gold medals in '84. In fact, Touch of Class was the first horse to ever jump double clear rounds in the individual final. In LA, she jumped 90 of 91 fences clean, which is just absolutely astounding.

    4. 1988 Seoul: Florence Griffith Joyner It's not that she won gold after gold, it's that she was so much better than everyone else. She won by huge margins in such short races. And her times were incredible. Her world record time in 200 meters is nearly three quarters of a second faster than the gold medallist this year. Plus, she cut a very cool figure with her flashy outfits and super long nails. I just loved her. It's sad she passed away so young and I just hope that it wasn't due to any performance-enhancing mischief.

    3. 1994 Lillehammer: Dan Jansen finally gets his gold This was the ultimate sob story. Jansen's sister dies hours before his race in 1988. He falls. He comes back 4 years later and falls. Then finally, my fellow Wisconsinite came through with his gold in '94. Then, there was the beautiful moment as Jansen skated around the rink holding his baby daughter. My roommates and I used to watch that tape after bar time that winter and spring. That, and Eddie Vedder on Unplugged. Yes, we were shallow.

    2. 1992 Barcelona: Derek Redmond & his father Derek Redmond was one of the favorites for the gold medal in the 400 meters. In the preliminaries he fell and injured himself. He got up to continue to the race and his father ran from the stands to his aid. Together, the two of them walked to the finish line together. For Redmond, I'm sure he saw his Olympic dream turning into a nightmare, but for the rest of us, we saw an incredibly touching moment between a father and son.

    1. 1980 Lake Placid: US Hockey Team What else could be number one? Even if you ignore all of the political aspects of the 1980 gold medal team, you're still left with an incredible sports story. 20 college kids, the boys next door, beating what was probably the best hockey team in the world. But it wasn't just that they were underdogs, what made this so memorable was their pure joy at winning. They were brilliant enough to win and generous enough to let the entire country share in their exultation.

    My dad and I kept the Sports Illustrated from the game for over 24 years now. I can still probably quote most of the article. In fact, I was a little bitter that the movie Miracle didn't show some of the moments described in SI.

    Posted by at August 28, 2004 12:30 PM

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    #  March 7th, 2005 6:48 PM      Converted_Comment
    Converted comment: Posted by: Joe R. at August 30, 2004 01:47 AM

    I dunno, the Walsh/May display of affection after they won made my list.




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