Dorothy Hamill cried before the free skate in the Women’s Figure Skating at the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, but she managed to keep her composure while she was actually on the ice and was able to deliver a spectacular performance that was good enough to win the gold medal.
Just before it was time for Hamill to take the ice, her nerves got the best of her and tears started to flow. But then she she saw a sign in the stands that read, “Which of the West, Dorothy.” She was touched by the play on words and the show of support. It calmed her nerves and the rest is history.
Today Hamill is probably more famous for her ground breaking hairstyle than for her skating accomplishments.
Shaun White lived up to the hype and won the gold medal in The Half Pipe at the Winter Olympics in Turin, on February 12, 2006.
Less than two weeks before the Turin games, White had won gold medals in the Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado. He won in both Slopestyle and Superpipe. Winning those events was nothing new for him. He had won Slopestyle and Superpipe in three previous Winter X Games competitions.
By the the time he got to Turin the “Flying Tomato” (because of his long flowing red hair and big ears), in addition to being heavily favored to win the gold, had achieved almost cult status as the “coolest dude on the slopes.”
Competing in his first Olympics, White could only manage the seventh best run in the first round. But he notched the highest score in the second round and that got him into the finals. White took such a commanding lead after the first run of the final round, his win became almost a foregone conclusion. Of greater interest in the second run was whether his teammates Danny Kass and Mason Aguierre would join him on the podium as the silver and bronze medal winners. Kass did wind up winning the silver medal, but Aguirre fell to fourth place behind Markku Koski of Finland.
he gold-medal ride was emblematic of White’s grace — the way he glided over the snow, the way he held his board dramatically in midair, the way he bled consecutive 1080-degree spins into consecutive 900-degree spins, as if they were all part of the same move. The coach of the United States team, Bud Keene, said of White’s ride, “It’s like he was skating.” Read more NYTimes
France’s Jean Claude Killy won three gold medals at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. His first win, in the downhill, came on February 9, 1968. Killy followed up his Downhill win, taking the gold medal in the Giant Slalom on February 12. He put a final exclamation point on his spectacular Olympic showing when he won the Slalom on February 17. Killy was the second Olympic skier to win the “Alpine Grand Slam.”
Austrian Toni Sailer was the first skier to win the three events. He won his gold medals at the Winter Olympics in Cortina, Italy in 1956.
In the days leading up to Killy’s third win, the Frenchman and Sailer became engaged in an Alpine trash talking event of Olympic proportions. Sailer predicted that Killy would fail in his attempt to win the third leg of the slam. Killy responded by saying that even having only won two gold medals so far, that he had already surpassed Sailer’s 1956 performance. The AP reported that Killy said, “In the slalom Sailer only had to make one descent. I must make two. To win the special slalom I must race four times – – two qualification runs in addition to the two official runs. It is much more difficult.”
In addition winning his three gold medals, Jean Claude Killy clearly won the pissing contest with Sailer as well.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee won a gold medal in the long jump at the Seoul Olympics on Septemeber 29, 1988. About an hour later, her sister-in-law, Florence Griffith Joyner (Better known as Flo Jo) broke a world record in a semi final heat of the 200 meters.
For Joyner-Kersee, the win in the long jump was her second gold medal. She had won (and set a world record) the heptathlon five days earlier.
By the end of the day on the 29th sister-law Flo Jo had also won her second gold medal, and in doing so, broke the world record in the 200 meters, twice within an hour and a half.
Even more medals for Florence Joyner
But Florence Joyner wasn’t finished yet. On October 1, running in the third leg of the 4×100 relay, she won her third gold medal of the 1988 Olympics. 40 minutes after that, she anchored the U.S. team in the 4×400 relay. The U.S. broke the world record in the race, but the foursome from the Soviet Union broke it by even more, so Joyner and her teammates had to settle for a silver medal.
When it was all over, the two sisters-in-law probably had to buy an new piece piece of luggage to schlep home the five gold medals and the one silver medal that collected in Seoul at the 1988 Olympics.
At the Seoul Olympics on September 24, 1988, competing in the 100 meter sprint, Ben Johnson won a decisive victory over his rival, nine-time Olympic gold medalist, Carl Lewis. Three days later, after tests revealed that Johnson had used illegal performance enhancing drugs, he was stripped of the gold medal (and his world record was revoked) and it as awarded to Lewis.
Johnson won the bronze medal in the 100 at 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Lewis took the gold medal there. (He also won the 200 meters, the long jump, and was on the 4×100 team that captured the gold medal.) This was not the first time that Johnson had beaten Lewis, in fact Johnson won five races in a row against Johnson between 1985 and 1987. After the fourth loss in Seville, Spain, Lewis commented, “A lot of people have come out of nowhere and are running unbelievably, and I just don’t think they’re doing it without drugs,”If I were taking drugs, I could do a 9.80 right away-just like him.”
Six of the eight finalists in Seoul would later fail drugs test or be implicated in their use. While before the race the IOC had largely been ambivalent on the issue, the embarrassment caused by the scandal lead to a new regime of drug testing. Read more CNN.com
This one still stinks – The Olympics at its worst. The U.S. Olympic basketball streak ended, after being unbeaten since the sport was introduced at the 1936 games. Going into this game the U.S. team’s record was 62-0.
In fairness to the Soviet team that allegedly won, it wasn’t their fault that they had played superbly and were within a point of the Americans when the game should have ended. And it wasn’t their fault the Americans played poorly and allowed the Russians to stay in the game. And they didn’t create the chaos that ensued as the game ended, all three times.
Then again, they missed an opportunity to go down in history as among the greatest sportsmen of all time, if they would have exchanged their tainted gold medals for what would have been the most honored and celebrated silver medal accomplishment in the history of the Olympics.
But they didn’t.