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Seoul 1988

1988 SEOUL

The large-scale boycotts of Moscow (1980) and Los Angeles (1984) did not occur in Seoul. For the first time in 12 years all leading sporting nations, bar Cuba and Ethiopia, took part in the Summer Olympics. The Olympic Games were used by South Korea to accelerate the country's transition into democracy.

Bidding contenders

Seoul, Nagoya (Japan)

Top Athletes

East German swimmer Kirsten Otto won six gold medals, coming close to equalling Mark Spitz's feat at the 1972 Munich Games. American Matt Biondi won five gold medals as well as a silver and a a bronze in the swimming pool. Anthony Nesty, the only swimmer representing Suriname, beat Biondi in the 100 butterfly, halting his quest to chase Spitz's remarkable performance.

America's Florence Griffith-Joyner suddenly blossomed at the 1988 games. "Flo-Jo" won gold medals in the 100m, 200m and the 4x100m relay as well as a silver medal in the 4x400m relay.

Griffith-Joyner's sister-in-law Jackie Joyner-Kersee, won gold medals in the heptathlon and the long jump. Joyner-Kersee set a new world record in the heptathlon.

Sergei Bubka won the gold medal in the pole vault with his one and only valid attempt. He set a new Olympic record in an event dominated by the Soviet Union.

Memorable Moments

Ben Johnson
During the 16 days of the Games, athletes from 159 nations participated and 27 new world records were set, but sadly the Games will be remembered for the most spectacular drugs case in Olympic history. Three days after Canadian Ben Johnson had won the 100m in a new world-record time of 9.79 seconds, it was announced that the 26-year old had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Johnson was stripped of both his world record and gold medal. The gold medal went to American Carl Lewis. Lewis also won the long jump and he claimed a silver medal in the 200m.


Christa Luding-Rothenburger, who was also a speed skater, won a silver medal in cycling, thus becoming the first ever athlete to win both Summer and Winter Olympic medals in the same year.

Tennis star Steffi Graf concluded her Grand Slam season by winning gold in Seoul in the women's singles competition.

Lennox Lewis won the super-heavyweight boxing gold for Canada.

Future Olympic wrestling great, Soviet Greco-Roman wrestler Aleksandr Karelin, competing in the super heavyweight division, won the first of his three career Olympics gold medals.

Weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu of Turkey won the first of his three career gold medals.

The men’s diving competition was again dominated by Greg Louganis of the United States.

The men's middle distance events were won by Kenyans, with Paul Ereng taking the 800m and Peter Rono the 1 500m. Another Kenyan, John Ngugi, won the 5 000m, while the 10 000m gold went to Morocco's Brahim Boutayeb.

Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 Soviet Union 55 30 45 130
2 German Democratic Repuplic 37 35 30 102
3 United States of America 36 31 27 94
4 Federal Republic of Germany 11 14 15 40
5 Bulgaria 10 12 13 35
6 Korea 12 10 11 33
7 China 5 11 12 28
8 Romania 7 11 6 24
9 Great Britain 5 10 9 24
10 Hungary 11 6 6 23
Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
20 Kenya 5 2 2 9
29 Morocco 1 0 2 3
43 Senegal 0 1 0 1
48 Djibouti 0 0 1 1

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