10 greatest Olympic snapshots in history

4th August 2016 1:30 PM
UPDATED 5th August 11:09 AM

Everyone will have their Olympic memories.

Something that tugged at the heart strings or a piece of sporting brilliance that will live long in the mind.

Here Australian Regional Media sports journalist Phil Dillon picks his top 10 Olympic memories, going back to the 1968 Games in Mexico City which he watched as a six-year-old on a black and white television in London.



10: Mary Decker and Zola Budd Los Angeles 1984

American Decker was the hometown favourite and the best in the world over 3000m. Budd was the 18-year-old who had broken the world 5000m and 2000m records and switched allegiance to Great Britain to avoid the ban on South African athletes because of apartheid. The teenager's passport had been fast-tracked to enable her to compete at the Games and her presence in Los Angeles was frowned upon by most. She also ran barefoot, another thing that turned some against her. The final was expected to be a race between the two, but they were bunched with two other runners when, just past the halfway mark, Decker made contact with Budd from behind and went sprawling off the track, damaging her hip in the process. Budd ran on, but the boos of the home crowd got to her and she stopped trying before finishing seventh. Decker lay on the track in tears and was carried off by her husband, Richard Slaney, a British discus thrower. Decker was short with Budd when the teenager went to apologise but later said sorry for her reaction.



9: Greg Louganis Seoul 1988

American Greg Louganis was the greatest diver of his generation - some say ever - but for me, one of his greatest achievements involved a dive that was far from perfection. Louganis hit his head on the end of the 3m springboard during the preliminary dives of the competition, cutting his head and spewing blood into the pool. The wound required five stitches, but 30 minutes after the accident, Louganis got back on the diving board to produce a dive that chalked up the best scores of the day, helping him to an eventual gold medal and a place in Olympic history.



8: American basketball dream team Barcelona 1992

For me this was when the Olympics changed forever. Amateurism was no more when the stars of the NBA were chosen to play for USA at the Barcelona Games. But they weren't just any players. They were some of the best to have ever played the game, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and David Robinson. Not surprisingly, this team won all of its games in Spain, prevailing by an average of 44 points, and served it up to 117-85 in the final. In an acknowledgement from the Americans to the previous amateur system, Christian Laettner of Duke University was included in the squad.  



7: Nadia Comaneci Montreal 1976

Prior to the Games in Canada, women's gymnastics in the 1970s had been dominated by Russians. Olga Korbut stole the show at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, and Ludmilla Tourischeva and Nellie Kim were also stars of the sport. Then along came 14-year-old Romanian schoolgirl Comaneci. In the compulsory team portion of the competition, she became the first to receive a score of a perfect 10 for her routine on the uneven bars. Comaneci, who scored another six 10s in Montreal, went on to become the first Romanian gymnast to win the Olympic all-around title. She took home three gold medals in total and helped Romania to team silver. She holds the record for being the youngest Olympic gymnastics all-around champion. 



6: Daley Thompson Los Angeles 1984

The British decathlete won the gold in Moscow in 1980, but his greatest rival, German Jurgen Hingsen, went into the Los Angeles Games as the world record holder - having broken Thompson's mark - and favourite for gold. My abiding memory is of Thompson struggling in the discus until his final throw, which put him back on track with his rival. From that moment on, the Brit took it all in his stride and virtually strolled to the gold in the final event, the 1500m. Thompson was always a bit of a maverick and caused furore when he whistled the national anthem at the medal ceremony. But for a teenager like me that made Thompson even more of a hero.



5: Derek Redmond Barcelona 1992

Derek Redmond was plagued by injuries, but at his best and injury-free the British 400m runner was one of the best in the world and a chance for a medal in Barcelona. He was in contention in his semi-final but about 150m in, his hamstring snapped and Redmond collapsed on the track. As officials rushed to his aid, the Brit decided he did not want to end his Olympics on the track in a heap and pulled himself to his feet. A jogging limp to the line followed, but then, suddenly, a man broke through security, ran to Redmond and took him by the hand before acting as a crutch to just before the finish line. It was Redmond's father and he let his son complete the race alone. There wasn't a dry eye in the stadium, or our house.


FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2008 file photo, Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the gold in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. How does Bolt's mother help the world's fastest man keep his cool?
FILE - In this Aug. 20, 2008 file photo, Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win the gold in the men's 200-meter final during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. How does Bolt's mother help the world's fastest man keep his cool? "We say things that will make him laugh," said Jennifer Bolt as her sprinter star offspring faces down what just may be his last Olympics. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus, File) Anja Niedringhaus


4: Usain Bolt Beijing 2008

The Jamaican was favourite for the 100m gold after breaking the world record in New York just before the Games in China. He lived up to that favouritism in spectacular fashion, running away from a top-class field to break his own world mark with an incredible time of 9.69 seconds. Bolt could have run faster, it seemed, if he hadn't slowed down to celebrate before crossing the finish line, and if his shoelace had not been untied. Bolt went on to break Michael Johnson's world record in the 200m, clocking 19.30 to win gold, before running the third leg as the Jamaican 4x100m relay squad set another world record to take gold. A star was born in the Bird's Nest and he managed to repeat the feat by winning the same three gold in London four years later.



3: Tommy Smith, John Carlos, Peter Norman Mexico City 1968

As a six-year-old watching black and white TV in London, I knew nothing about Black Power and the battle for racial equality. All I saw were two black guys - Smith and Carlos - with black-gloved hands raised at the medal ceremony. Why? In later years, I realised this was one of the most powerful moments in Olympic history, and even in world history, especially as the part played by Australian Norman was revealed down the years. On a purely sporting note, as a young boy I had never seen anyone run that fast. The sight of Tommy Smith breaking the world record in the 200m will stay with me forever.



2: Bob Beamon Mexico City 1968

Some sporting feats just have to be seen to be believed, but even now, almost 50 years later, I still struggle to comprehend Bob Beamon's performance in the long jump final at the Mexico City Olympics. The American favourite had produced two no-jumps - one more and he would be eliminated. This time, after advice from teammate and rival Ralph Boston, he struck the board perfectly. The rest, as they say, is history. I can remember thinking he looked like he was flying as he soared to a world record of 8.90m - a record that stood for 23 years before being advanced twice in the same competition, to 8.91m by Carl Lewis and, a few minutes later, 8.95m by Mike Powell.


Cathy Freeman.
Cathy Freeman. File Photo


1: Magic Monday Sydney 2000

September 25, 2000 will always be Cathy Freeman's day, but for me it was a lot more than that. Freeman carried the burden of a nation and the Aboriginal people on her shoulders when she started as favourite in the 400m final. Who could forget the flash bulbs going off in the packed stadium - with possibly the biggest crowd for an athletics event in history - and Freeman, looking like a green goddess in her all-in-one go-faster suit, flashing around the track? Some chose to criticise Freeman for draping herself in the Australian and Aboriginal flags after the race, but for me it was great for the Olympics and great for the nation. However, Magic Monday was much more than Freeman's win. Michael Johnson's bid to become the first man to win consecutive 400m gold medals was held up by Freeman's lap of honour, but that only added to the drama. Johnson, of course, duly delivered as the camera flashes went into overdrive again. In the field events there was more magic to come, as world champion and world record holder Jonathan Edwards won a long-awaited triple jump gold in his fourth Olympics. There was drama, too, in the final of the first women's pole vault competition to be held at an Olympics, with American Stacy Dragila staving off the challenge of Russian-born Australian Tatiana Grigorieva. Then it was the turn of Ethiopian Haile Gebreselassie and Kenyan Paul Tergat to serve up a classic. With about 250m to go in the 25th and final lap of the 10,000m final, the pair cleared away from a crack field and for an epic, sustained sprint to the line. The smiling Gebreselassie got past Tergat with about 10m to go and prevailed by just 0 .09 of a second. It was the perfect end to what had been a perfect day of perfect athletics. Four years ago in London we had Super Saturday, when Britain won six gold medals and Sebastian Coe was moved to describe it as the greatest Olympic day ever for drama that transcended sport, but Magic Monday wins for me.


Let us know your top Olympic moments.



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