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Atlanta 1996


During the 96th IOC session, in September 1990 in Tokyo, International Olympic Committee members voted in the final round for Atlanta (51 votes) over Athens (35 votes) to host the 1996 Games.

Beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women's football made their Olympic debuts in Atlanta.

The Games fell victim to a bomb planted in a city centre park by an American right-wing extremist that killed one person and injured more than a hundred. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was swift to declare that the Games would go on.

The 85 000-capacity Olympic Stadium was designed specifically to be reconfigured after the Games to form Turner Field, home of the city's baseball team the Atlanta Braves.

A record 197 nations took part in the Games, with a record 79 of them winning at least one medal, while 24 debutants took part, including 11 former Soviet nations.

Bidding contenders

Atlanta, Athens, Toronto, Melbourne, Manchester, Belgrade

Top Athletes

America's Michael Johnson managed a groundbreaking double gold in the 200m and 400m sprints, with the added spice of setting a new world record time of 19.32sec in the shorter race.

Carl Lewis joined Finland's all-time great middle distance runner Paavo Nurmi in the record books by securing his ninth title, which came in the long jump; it was his fourth consecutive gold in the event.

Canadian Donovan Bailey set a world record time of 9.84secs in the 100m, while also registering the fastest top speed ever clocked of 27.07 mph during the race.

In women's athletics France's Marie-José Pérec emulated Michael Johnson by winning a rare 200m/400m double to go with her 400m title four years earlier.

Steve Redgrave (his fourth) and Matthew Pinsent (his second) rowed to gold in the coxless pairs.

Memorable Moments

Surprise torch lighter Muhammad Ali lit the stadium cauldron to open the Atlanta Games in an emotional moment that has become an iconic image in Olympic history. A Sports Illustrated picture of the scene was boldly entitled: "The greatest start to an Olympics."

Gymnast Kerri Strug showed remarkable bravery to help 'The Magnificent Seven' of America win their first ever women's team gold, finally overcoming the powerhouses from Russia. Going last on the vault, Strug badly injured her ankle on her first attempt, but bravely went again, nailed the landing practically on one foot, before collapsing in pain and needing assistance to leave the floor. Strug's moment of triumph was immortalised in the most enduring image from the Atlanta Games, which shows her coach, Bela Karolyi, carrying Strug up to the podium to receive her gold medal.


Naim Suleymanoglu

Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympics, and it could have been ten had he been more than just a reserve in 1960.

Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu, known as the 'Pocket Hercules', became the first weightlifter to win three Olympic gold medals, and secured his place as a national hero.

Lai Shan Lee bagged a last-gasp medal for Hong Kong at their eleventh Olympics with a gold in windsurfing. It was the port city's first ever medal at their last ever Olympics, as the city then became part of China.

Britain's Linford Christie won the 100m gold at Barcelona but in 1996 he was disqualified from the event after two false starts.

The American basketball team was called "Dream Team 2" and featured Shaquille O'Neal, Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone.

Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1 United States of America 44 32 25 101
2 Russian Federation 26 21 16 63
3 Germany 20 18 27 65
4 China 16 22 12 50
5 France 15 7 15 37
6 Italy 13 10/td> 12 35
7 Australia 9 9 23 41
8 Cuba 9 8 8 25
9 Ukraine 9 2 12 23
10 Korea 7 15 5 27
Position Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
27 South Africa 3 1 1 5
32 Nigeria 2 1 3 6
34 Algeria 2 0 1 3
35 Ethiopia 2 0 1 3
38 Kenya 1 4 3 8
49 Burundi 1 0 0 1
55 Namibia 0 2 0 2
67 Zambia 0 1 0 1
69 Morocco 0 0 2 2
76 Mozambique 0 0 1 1
78 Tunisia 0 0 1 1
79 Uganda 0 0 1 1

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