Saturday Top 5: USA Moments in Olympic History

In honor of the closing of the Olympic experience in Beijing, this week’s Top 5 will include the 5 greatest US Olympic moments in the history of the Summer games.

Honorable Mention:

1992 Dream Team 1992 Barcelona, Spain – The greatest compilation of talent in the history of basketball was on showcase for the world in the Summer games of 1992. The domination was unmatched in Olympic history, and may never be matched again by any sport or in any discipline. The roster: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, and John Stockton.

5. Michael Johnson 1996 Atlanta, GA, USA – Johnson was one of the most dominant sprinters in Olympic history. His running style, according to many experts, was reminiscent of the great Jesse Owens. When he showed up for the 200 meter sprint, he was wearing gold Nike’s. It was electrifying. His record of 19.32 in the 200 meter stood until the Bolt broke that this by .02.

4. Bob Beamon 1968 Mexico City, Mexico – With words it’s difficult to overhype Beamon’s accomplishments in the 1968 games in Mexico City. Having failed to even qualify a jump, his third attempt would either make or break his Olympic event. What happened next inspired a book, “The Perfect Jump”. Because of approach problems, he slowed down his approach so he could make a jump that would not disqualify him. He hit the board on the nose and when he landed, history was made. His long jump record held for 23 years. The jump was so long, the official measuring device was not long enough to measure it. After the event, when the distance was announced, Beamon collapsed with his face in his hand, and had to be helped off the field.

3b. Mark Spitz 1972 Munich Germiny – It was 1972 in Munich and the mustache was very popular. Spitz dominated the field winning 7 gold medals in swimming only competing in 7 events. With preliminary races included, Spitz raced 13 races in that fortnight. More amazingly, he set 7 world records.

3a. Michael Phelps 2008 Beijing China – He did what nobody thought was possible. In 8 swimming events, he won 8 gold medals. Fell a fraction short of 8 world records, winning 7. He also needed a little help from Jason Lezak in the 4×100 in one of the most unlikely come-from-behind victories in Olympic history. He also won his 200 M Butterfly by .01 seconds, about the length of a fingernail. Phelps, by medals, is now the greatest Olympian in history, and he is not done. At 23, he is in his prime and has stated he will compete in London 2012.

2. Carl Lewis 1984 Los Angeles, CA and 1996 Atlanta, GA, USA – When people think about Lewis, many times it is the 1984 Olympics that set him apart. Arguably, this was one of the greatest moments in Olympic history, having doubled in the 100 and 200 meter sprints. But it wasn’t 1984 which stands out to me. For me, it was the 1996 Atlanta games in which an aging Lewis who almost did not qualify for the team was not even in medal position after the first two jumps nailed his third jump to win gold. It was an electric moment and it seemed that absolutely nobody expected it to happen.

1. Jesse Owens 1936 Berlin, Germany. No comments needed.

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