Posts Tagged ‘Olympic Games’

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided not to serve Russia with a blanket ban from the upcoming Rio Olympics (they start 5 August). This, despite the finding of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that wide-spread doping was (is) being conducted in Russian sport with the implicit knowledge and cooperation of the Russian government and sports authorities. I am flabbergasted that the IOC has been so spineless.

Doping is ruining sport. In almost any event which involves a test of speed or endurance or strength, one can only wonder how clean a winning athlete is. When all eight of the athletes who started the 1988 mens’ 100 metres sprint were later found guilty of having taken performance enhancing substances at some point, and when a two-times drugs cheat like Justin Gatlan is still allowed to compete in athletics, the world of sport is in serious denial if it thinks that it is not in crisis.

Thankfully the IAAF has been a bit more bold; Russia is banned from competing in the athletics (track and field) at the Rio games. Individual athletes can, as I understand it, make an appeal against this blanket ban if they feel they can prove that they are and have been clean. The IOC should have done the same thing. By not doing so they have ducked the issue, in my opinion.


Russia has escaped a blanket ban by the IOC from the Rio Olympics.

For me it is very sad when one watches the Olympic Games, one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, and one wonders how many of the athletes in each final are clean, and how many have managed to beat the testing system. Russia has been shown to have a state-sanctioned doping system, the evidence gathered by the WADA investigation is overwhelming. For that, Russia should be banned from the Olympics. No ifs or buts. An outright ban, until it can be shown to have cleaned up its act. The IOC has missed a big opportunity here to send out a clear message that doping should not be tolerated in sport.

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By the time the 1996 Atlanta Olympics had come around, I was living and working in the USA. This is highly relevant to my memories of these Olympics, as the United States TV coverage of the Olympics is very different from the coverage I was used to in the Disunited Kingdom. The US TV coverage concentrates on US athletes, sometimes not even showing who wins a particular event. Also, as “track and field” (athletics) is very much a minority sport in the USA, much more air-time is given to sports which don’t feature much in the DUK coverage, such as softball. I didn’t even know softball was in the olympics!

Despite this, one of my abiding memories of the 1996 Olympics is from the athletics track. But first, I should mention the wonderful sight of Muhammad Ali lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony. Fighting under his birth name of Casius Clay, Muhammad Ali had won the Gold medal in the heavyweight category at the 1960 Rome Olympics. Ali turned professional immediately after the 1960 Olympics, fighting his first professional fight on the 29th of October 1960. Ali went on to become probably the most famous boxer in history.

Muhammad Ali, possibly the most famous sportsman of the 20th Century, lights the Olympic cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The man in the golden shoes

Michael Johnson was the nailed on favourite to win the 400m and 200m at the 1996 Olympics. In 1991, he won Gold in the 200m at the World Athletics Championships in Tokyo. He won Olympic Gold as part of the USA 4x400m relay at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but otherwise had had a disappointing Olympics. 2 weeks before the 1992 Olympics, Johnson contracted food poisoning, and he failed to qualify for the final of the 200m, even though he went into the Olympics as favourite.

In the 1993 World Athletics Championships held in Stuttgart, Johnson won the 400m and the 4x400m relay. Two years later, at the 1995 World Athletics Championships in Goteborg (Gothenburg), he won both the 200m and 400m. At the 1996 US Olympic trials, Johnson ran 19.66s in the 200m, to set a new World record, beating Italy’s Pietro Minnea’s World record of 19.72s, which had stood for 17 years.

Running in front of his home crowd, the pressure of expectation on him was immense. To add to the expectation, he had been provided by his running shoe sponsors with a pair of golden track spikes (actually several pairs, as he wore a different pair for each race).

Michael Johnson in his golden track spikes at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

Here is Johnson winning the 200m final

Here is Johnson winning the 400m final

Marie José-Pérec and Donavon Bailey

The two other highlights for me of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics were the french Athlete Marie-José Pérec duplicating Michael Johnson’s feat by winning the women’s 200m and 400m events, and the Canadian sprinter Donavon Bailey winning the men’s 100m in a new World record time of 9.84s.

José-Pérec had won the 400m in the 1992 Barcelona olympics, but in 1996 she was attempting to do the double. This she did, winning the 200m in a time of 22.12s, and won the 400m in a new Olympic record time of 48.25s.

Marie José-Pérec at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics

This video shows Marie-José-Pérec winning the 400m in the 1992 Barcelona olympics, and the 200m and 400m in the 1996 Atlanta olympics.

In winning the 100m, and setting a new World record time, Donavon Bailey helped eradicate the tainted memory of Ben Johnson, the disgraced Canadian sprinter who won the 100m in 1988, only to be disqualified within 48 hours for having taken performance enhancing drugs.

Donavon Bailey showing his delight in winning the men’s 100m in a new World record time of 9.84s

Here is a video of Donavon Bailey winning the 100m.

What is your favourite memory of the 1996 Atlanta olympics?

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On the 18th of October 1968, at the Mexico Olympics, Bob Beamon stunned the athletics world. In the final of the long jump competition he leapt 8.90 metres (29 feet 2.5 inches). This completely destroyed the previous World record of 8.35 metres by 55cm (21.75 inches)! The 2nd place went to Klaus Beer of East Germany with a jump of 8.19m.

It had taken 61 years for the World record to advance by 55cm to the 8.35 metre record that Beamon shattered, and in the previous 10 years the record had advanced by only 14cm.

I honestly am not sure whether I remember this feat or not. I was 4 and 1/2 at the time, but I do know the Olympics was on all the time in our house, and I have a vague recollection of my father getting very excited about an amazing record being set by someone who had just jumped a very long way 🙂

Bob Beamon at the 1968 Mexico Olympics, shattering the World record.

Prior to Mexico, Beamon himself had not jumped further than 8.33 metres (27 feet 4 inches). The previous Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 had been won by Welshman Lynn Davies with a leap of 8.07 metres. Here is footage of Bob Beamon’s World record leap.

This incredible World record stood for 23 years, until Mike Powell broke it in 1991 with a leap of 8.95 metres at the IAAF World Championships in Tokyo.

Mike Powell, who broke Bob Beamon’s 1968 World record at the IAAF World Championships in 1991 with a leap of 8.95 metres.

Here is a video of Mike Powell breaking Beamon’s record at that championships in Tokyo.

The progress of the long jump World record

The progress of the long jump World Record
Distance Athlete Venue Date
7.61 m (24 ft 11 5⁄8 in) Peter O’Connor (Ireland) Dublin 1901-08-05
7.69 m (25 ft 2 3⁄4 in) Edward Gourdin (USA) Cambridge 1923-07-23
7.76 m (25 ft 5 1⁄2 in) Robert LeGendre (USA) Paris 1924-07-07
7.89 m (25 ft 10 5⁄8 in) DeHart Hubbard (USA) Chicago 1925-06-13
7.90 m (25 ft 11 in) Edward Hamm (USA) Cambridge 1928-07-07
7.93 m (26 ft 3⁄16 in) Sylvio Cator (HAI) Paris 1928-09-09
7.98 m (26 ft 2 3⁄16 in) Chuhei Nambu (JPN) Tokyo 1931-10-27
8.13 m (26 ft 8 1⁄16 in) Jesse Owens (USA) Ann Arbor 1935-05-25
8.21 m (26 ft 11 1⁄4 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Walnut 1960-08-12
8.24 m (27 ft 7⁄16 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Modesto 1961-05-27
8.28 m (27 ft 2 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Moscow 1961-07-16
8.31 m (27 ft 3 3⁄16 in) Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (URS) Yerevan 1962-06-10
8.31 m (27 ft 3 3⁄16 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Kingston 1964-08-15
8.34 m (27 ft 4 3⁄8 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Los Angeles 1964-09-12
8.35 m (27 ft 4 3⁄4 in) Ralph Boston (USA) Modesto 1965-05-29
8.35 m (27 ft 4 3⁄4 in) Igor Ter-Ovanesyan (URS) Mexico City 1967-10-19
8.90 m (29 ft 2 3⁄8 in) Bob Beamon (USA) Mexico City 1968-10-18
8.95 m (29 ft 4 3⁄8 in) Mike Powell (USA) Tokyo 1991-08-30

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