Since the beginning of the modern games in Greece in 1896, the Olympic Games have always brought moments of great emotion and achievement. Over the years, several have stood out as especially notable.
1. America’s Jesse Owens defied Hitler’s Aryan supremacy myth by winning four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics in 1936. Owens won the 100-meter sprint in 10.3 seconds, the long jump with a leap of 26 feet and 5 inches; the 200-meter sprint in 20.7 seconds, and his fourth gold in the 4×100 sprint relay.
2. Ethiopian runner Abebe Bikila ran a marathon barefoot at the Rome Olympics in 1960 and won. Running the way he had trained, Bikila achieved a record time of 2:15:16.2and became the first athlete from Sub-Saharan Africa to win an Olympic gold medal.
3. African-American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who won gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the 200-meters, stood on the podium for the medals ceremony wearing civil rights badges. Each raised a black-gloved fist to express solidarity with the Black Freedom Movement in the US as the “Star Spangled Banner” was played. They were both suspended from the American team by IOC president Avery Brundage, who objected to a political statement being made at the Games, and were banned from the Olympic Village.
4. American swimmer Michael Phelps won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 to become the most decorated Olympian in history. Phelps won 18 gold medals and a total of 22 gold medals over the course of four Olympic Games.
5. Jamaica’s Usain Bolt became the fastest man on record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He won gold in the 100 meters with a time of 9.69 seconds, broke the world and Olympic records in the 200 meters with a time of 19.30 seconds, and then set a world and Olympic record record as the third leg in the 4×400 relay with the Jamaican team, which won gold with a time of 37.10 seconds .
6. Sarah Attar became the first female athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at the Olympics by participating at the London Games in 2012, running in the 800 meters. This was the first time women from Saudi Arabia were allowed to compete in the Games.