The Olympic anthem will not sound for another year. The International Olympic Committee made the announcement Tuesday that the Tokyo Games will be postponed until 2021, citing the growing coronavirus pandemic. The exact dates have yet to be announced.
This may sadden Olympics die-hards, but let this tide you over until the calendar turns to next year. Here are 10 great Summer Olympic moments, in no particular order.
Jesse Owens embarrasses Hitler
At the 1936 Games in Berlin, American track and field athlete Jesse Owens became the first person to win four Olympic gold medals. He won the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4×100-meter relay and the long jump.
The performance by Owens, who was African-American, was a slap in the face to Adolf Hitler. As ESPN’s Larry Schwartz wrote in 2000, Owens “single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.”
Kerri Strug sticks the landing on an injured ankle
It was 1996 in Atlanta. In the team competition, Kerri Strug landed awkwardly and injured her ankle on her first vault, tearing two ligaments.
Strug hobbled back to the start for her second vault. She sprinted down the runway, completed her vault and stuck the landing, hopping on her good leg. After a couple of seconds, she dropped to her knees and had to be helped off the mat.
Strug was carried to the medal ceremony by her coach, Bela Karolyi, to get the gold put around her neck.
Michael Phelps wins by a fingernail
Michael Phelps won a record-setting eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Games, but No. 7 was the most dramatic. It also seemed his most unlikely.
In the 100m butterfly final, Phelps was in 7th when the swimmers made the turn at the halfway point. But after a furious sprint, Phelps barely edged out Serbia’s Milorad Cavic to win by 0.01 seconds.
Lezak’s furious sprint
Well before that race, Phelps needed a little help from his friends. He won gold medal No. 2 at the Beijing Games in the 4×100 meter freestyle relay.
After the third leg, it looked like the U.S. would be stuck with silver. Jason Lezak entered the pool for the anchor leg, behind France’s Alain Bernard by a full body length.
In the last 25 meters, Lezak went on a furious sprint to hit the wall ahead of Bernard by 0.08 seconds.
The one where Katie Ledecky is the only one in the shot
There are close finishes like Phelps had, and then there is Katie Ledecky’s insanely dominant performance at the 2016 Games in Rio.
In the women’s 800 meters, the world’s best distance swimmer so overmatched her competition that when she touched the wall, the overhead camera shot showed nobody else in the pool.
She finished in a world record time of 8:04.79. The next-closest competitor wouldn’t arrive for another 12 seconds.
Speaking of dominance, there was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt. His coming out party was in the 2008 Olympics in which he set two world records.
His dominance was so clear, he slowed down and held his arms out well before crossing the finish line in the 100-meter final. In the 200 meters, he had the lead at the halfway point and never looked back.
In the 4×100 meter final, he was the anchor leg for Jamaica. He was the first anchor runner to get the handoff and dominated to the finish. Unfortunately for Bolt, Jamaica was stripped of that gold nine years later after it was confirmed that teammate Nesta Carter had taken a banned substance.
Bolt would go on to win gold in all three events in 2012 and 2016.
Bruce Jenner: World’s Greatest Athlete
Long before becoming Caitlyn Jenner, Bruce Jenner was crowned “World’s Greatest Athlete” by winning the 1976 Olympic Decathlon with a then-record score.
During the Cold War era, Jenner’s win helped the U.S. reclaim its dominance in the event. Since the advent of the decathlon at the 2012 Games, the U.S. had only lost the event three times through 1968. But in 1972, the Soviet Union took gold and silver while the U.S. was shut out of the medals.
Jenner re-asserted America’s spot atop the medal stand.
U.S. decathlon Bruce Jenner of San Jose, Calif., pole vaults during the Summer Olympic games in Montreal, July 1976. (AP Photo/Eddie Adams)
The Dream Team
NBA players in the Olympics has become commonplace, but it all started with the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.
In what may have been the single greatest collection of basketball talent ever assembled became “The Dream Team”: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Chris Mullin and Christian Laettner put egos aside and dominated all comers on the way to the gold medal.
They won their six games by an average of 51.5 points.
At the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, American Joan Benoit won the first women’s Olympic marathon. But she wasn’t the story of the day.
Gabriela Andersen of Switzerland finished 20 minutes behind Benoit. She was struggling mightily under the California sun. She entered Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum jogging, but by the first turn on the track, she was hobbling and hunched over. If any medical attendants assisted her, she would have been disqualified.
After a final lap around the track that took five minutes and 44 seconds. and with everyone in the stadium cheering, she crossed the finish line and collapsed.
Blood in the water
Greg Louganis remains one of the greatest divers in Olympic history, becoming the first man to sweep both the 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform at consecutive Games. But that feat was put in jeopardy in 1988 when he hit his head on the springboard in a preliminary dive. He suffered a concussion and needed stitches after bleeding in the water.
Louganis came back minutes later, completed his final dive of the preliminaries and then went on to win the gold.