One of the best ways to watch the Olympics is to chase down all the references made by NBC’s commentators on YouTube and watch them in addition to (or instead of) the regular telecast. Here are some of the ones I’ve found.
From the 1976 Olympics, the first perfect 10 in Olympic gymnastics history by Nadia Comaneci on the uneven parallel bars. This more impressive routine also earned a 10, as did this balance beam routine.
Olga Korbut’s uneven parallel bars routine from the 1972 Olympics (above). Love that dismount! The skills done on the bars today are so much more athletic but Korbut’s routine was a magical flowing performance. At the rate the women today are going, the uneven parallel bars will soon be replaced by the high bar used in the men’s competitions…they barely use the bottom bar anymore.
My recollection of the men’s 4x100m relay at the 1984 Olympics involves the US team trailing after three legs when Carl Lewis (still my favorite Olympian) seizes the baton from Calvin Smith and thunders down the last 100 meters, singlehandedly winning the race and smashing the world record. The reality was somewhat different. The American team was way ahead when Lewis got the baton but it still is amazing to watch him pull away from the rest of the field like that. Bolt-like, innit?
A similar pulling away occurred in 1996 by Michael Johnson in the 200 meters. No one even came close to threatening his world record for 12 years until the emergence of Usain Bolt.
In 1988, Greg Louganis hit his head on the board on his third-to-last dive in the preliminaries of the men’s springboard. He returned to qualify for the next round and eventually won the gold medal in the event.
Bob Beamon smashed the world record in the long jump by almost two feet at the 1968 Olympics. His record stood for almost 23 years until Mike Powell broke it in 1991.
Also at the ‘68 Games, Dick Fosbury unveiled his unique high jumping technique, the Fosbury Flop, which became the preferred technique in this event. For comparison, here are a couple of videos showing the other techniques that were in use at the time.
Jesse Owens’ 100 meter win at the 1936 Games in Berlin.
After his hamstring popped in the semifinals of the 400 meters at the 1992 Olympics, Derek Redmond, aided by his father, finished the race to roars from the crowd. Just thinking about this makes me cry.
Speaking of tear-inducing performances, Kerri Strug hobbled up to the vault runway on a bum ankle and hit a 9.712 on her final vault in the team competition at the 1996 Games, landing more or less perfectly on one foot, clinching a victory for the US team. Or so the story goes. As with all mythology, the truth is present but not entirely adhered to. As it turned out, the US team had enough of a lead on the Russian team that Strug’s last vault was unnecessary. But it hardly dimishes the moment for Strug. At the time, she thought she had to do the vault for the medal and she went out there and stuck it.
And finally, Svetlana Khorkina on the uneven parallel bars at the 1996 Games. For reasons I don’t fully understand, Khorkina is probably my favorite female Olympian ever.
Update: From the 1964 Games, here’s a video of Billy Mills coming from behind in the 10,000 meters. I have no idea how he sprints that fast after running more than six miles. (thx, nivan)