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10 Best Moments from the Summer Olympics

July 19, 2021

From athletic accomplishments to history-making headlines, here are the most defining moments from the Summer Olympics.

There's no sporting event quite like the Summer Olympic Games. Every four years, athletes from around the globe bid to compete in this event that dates back to 1896 in Athens, Greece.


The Tokyo Olympics, or XXXII Olympiad, will take place from July 23 to Aug. 8 and feature 33 sports across 42 venues with 205 countries represented. The high level of competition, sense of national pride and must-watch moments make it one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. Billions of viewers are expected to watch — and fans are already setting their DVRs in anticipation.



Be sure to check out the Olympics Hub on Contour, and use your Contour Voice Remote to easily find your favorite athletes, teams and nations with the voice command, “Olympics.”



With the pageantry and magic of the opening ceremony around the corner, here are 10 of the best moments from past Summer Olympics.



1. The Dream Team in Barcelona, 1992


The greats of basketball took the court during the 1992 Barcelona Games. Fans watched as Chicago Bulls superstar Michael Jordan and his team of all-stars, including Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Clyde Drexler, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullen and Christian Laettner, appeared at the first Summer Games that included active NBA players. The Americans, dubbed the "Dream Team", took the gold medal by beating Croatia and have been lauded as perhaps the greatest sports team assembled.



2. Kerri Strug in Atlanta, 1996

At the 1996 Atlanta Games, it all came down to gymnast Kerri Strug to determine whether Team USA would take home the women's gymnastics' gold against the Russian, Romanian and Ukrainian teams. On her first vault attempt, Strug seriously injured her ankle. She landed on her feet and her ankle gave way. "Do we need this?" she asked, concerned about performing with an injured ankle. Yes, the team needed her. Fighting through the pain, the gymnast gave it her all and made a picture-perfect landing before ultimately falling to the mat. Her strength and determination put Team USA over the top and won them their first gold medal.



3. Michael Johnson in Atlanta, 1996

Michael Johnson was known as the man with the golden shoes. The sprinter claimed a pair of gold medals at the Atlanta Games in 1996. On Aug. 1, he broke the world record in the 200-meter race and he also won the 400-meter race just days prior, making him the first man in history to win both events. To this day, his shiny gold, spiked Nikes symbolize victory.



4. Florence Griffith Joyner in Seoul, 1988

The fastest woman of all time, Florence Griffith Joyner, known as Flo-Jo, also competed with great personal style. In 1988, Joyner won three gold medals for running in the 100-meters, 200-meters and the 100-meter relay. Her world record times for the 100-meter and 200-meter races have yet to be broken. Joyner's signature style, including her long nails, have become iconic in the world of fashion and sport.



5. Muhammad Ali in Atlanta, 1996

Not all incredible Olympics moments take place on the field of competition. In 1996, boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was suffering from Parkinson's Disease, surprised the crowd by lighting the flame at the opening ceremony. It was a poignant moment, celebrating a great athlete and gold medal winner.



6. Tommie Smith and John Carlos in Mexico City, 1968

When African American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos took the podium at Mexico City in 1968, they wanted to send a powerful message to the world. Smith and Carlos won the gold and bronze medals, respectively, for the 200-meter race. As the national anthem played, the athletes raised their fists to show solidarity with Black Power. The moment, which reflected the climate of social and political upheaval in the United States, has become an enduring pop culture symbol for athletes' social commentary.



7. Michael Phelps in Beijing, 2008

In the Olympics, every second counts. Michael Phelps won his seventh gold medal in Beijing by a split-second. Literally. The swimmer, who had been trailing throughout the competition, barely edged Serbia's Milorad Cavic during the 100-meter butterfly. In his final stroke, he went from seventh place to first — and won his event by a mere 0.01 seconds.



8. Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera in Paris, 1900

In 1900, French-Haitian athlete Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera became the first black athlete to compete at the modern-day Olympics. He also has the distinction of being the first person of color to earn an Olympic gold medal with France's win at the first rugby event.



9. Simone Biles in Rio, 2016

Simon Biles has become synonymous with greatness in gymnastics. In 2016, the U.S. gymnast wowed fans with her floor routines. The maximum score she could have gotten for her individual floor routine was 16.9 based on difficulty and execution. Her high-energy routine, featuring her signature double layout with a half turn, was considered the hardest in the world. It earned Biles a score of 15.733, meaning she had almost a perfect score. With her accolades in Rio, the 19-year-old made history by becoming the first female U.S. gymnast to earn four gold medals in a single Olympics.



10. Yusra Mardini in Rio, 2016

The Olympics bring us stories of triumph from around the world. In 2016, Yusra Mardini inspired millions with her journey to compete on the first ever Refugee Olympic Team. The Syrian swimmer fled her home in Damascus in a harrowing tale that involved swimming through the Aegean Sea. She and her sister traveled through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria before finally reaching Germany. She competed at Rio in 2016 and sees the pool as an equalizer for athletes. "In the water," she said, "there is no difference if you are a refugee or a Syrian or German."


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