Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games
It was fitting that as Barcelona hosted the twenty fifth celebration, that these games were opened on July 25th by King Carlos of Spain. Incidentally, or perhaps not so incidentally, Barcelona was the birthplace of the IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch.
In each games politics plays a part, but in the case of Barcelona it was good news. In the years that followed the 1988 Games, the world witnessed important political changes. Apartheid was abolished in South Africa, which allowed the country to participate in the Olympic Games again, for the first time since 1960.
Then there was the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of West and East Germany, as well as North and South Yemen. Communism was wiped out in the Soviet Union and the USSR was divided into 15 separate countries. Also Cuba returned to the Olympic fold and was prominent in the boxing ring, capturing seven gold medals.
At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the independent teams of Estonia and Latvia made their first appearance since 1936 and Lithuania sent its first team since 1928. The other ex-Soviet republics participated as a "unified team", although the winners were honoured under the flags of their own republics.
The only controversy concerned Yugoslavia, which was the subject of United Nations sanctions because of its military aggression against Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the end, Yugoslavia was banned from taking part in any team sports, but individual Yugoslav athletes were allowed to compete as "independent Olympic participants". Consequently, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina competed as separate nations for the first time.
Will and Guy's Collection of Interesting Facts from Barcelona 1992
This was the first Olympic Games to allow professional athletes. One of the memorable phrases of this game was 'Dream Team', which referred to the all star American Basketball team. In eight matches, the team which included Magic Johnson, M. Jordan, L. Bird and C. Barkley attained an average of 117 points and never asked for a time out.
Andreas Keller, of the gold medal-winning German field hockey team, was the third generation of his family to win a medal in the event. His grandfather, Erwin, earned a silver medal in 1936 and his father, Carsten, a gold in 1972.
Spain's coxswain in the eights, 11-year-old Carlos Front, was the youngest competitor in the Olympic Games since 1900.
In the last lap of the 10,000m final, Derartu Tulu [Ethiopian athletics] darted into the lead and went on to win. At the finish line, Tulu, the first black African woman to earn an Olympic medal, waited for her opponent Elana Meyer, a white South African. They set off hand in hand for a victory lap that symbolised hope for a new Africa.
In marathon, the Olympic finale, Young-jo Hwang made history for Korea. His marathon victory came 56 years after Kee-Jung Sohn won the Olympic marathon in Berlin in 1936 as a member of the Japanese team.
This time, as a member of the Korean team, Hwang came in first to the applause from about 80,000 spectators in the stands of the Montjuic Stadium. The 80-year-old Sohn was moved to tears to watch Hwang crowned with the laurel of victory on the recovered its status as a marathon power.
Linford Christie of Great Britain won the 100m 'Blue Riband' sprint. While Evelyn Ashford won her 4th gold medal in the 4 x 100m relay. And Carl Lewis narrowly beat Mike Powell in the men's long jump to win his 7th Olympic Gold, he added an 8th in the 4 x 100m relay.
There have been famous gymnasts such as Olga Korbut and Nadia Comaneci; but none has equalled Vitaly Scherbo achievement of winning 6 gold medals in the same Olympiad. Rrepresenting the Unified Team. He won rings, high bar, parallel bars, vault, all-around and team gold medals.
Perhaps the greatest shock was Sergey Bubka failure to win the poll vault. Although he broke the world record on numerous occasions, he froze on the most important stage of all. However Bubka had won the gold 4 years previously, albeit on his third and final jump.
The Spanish played their part in generating a feel good factor for the 1992 Barcelona Olympiad, yet it was not a vintage celebration, looking back through the results nothing REALLY memorable or scandalous happened here.
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