Dates: July 25 - August 9, 1992
Total Athletes: 10,563
As is usually the case, the awarding of the Olympic Games is a stimulant to the
revitalization of that city. Never was that more apparent than in Barcelona,
which, behind an $8 billion reconstruction effort, revived its beautiful
beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, built new luxurious hotels and rebuilt roads
and the entire infrastructure of the city.
Barecelona was host to the largest contingent of nations (172) and athletes
(10,563) in history. Most of these nations were making their first-ever
The XV Olympiad would long be remembered for the emergence of professionals in
the Olympics. The "Dream Team" consisting of the richest and most talented
athletes in the world, dominated basketball by outscoring their opponents by an
average of 44 points per game. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson,
Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, David Robinson,
Chris Mullin, Clyded Drexler, John Stockton, and Christian Laettner (the lone
college representative) formed the greatest team the sport would ever see.
The premise of using professionals was stimulated by the loss of the Americans
at the hands of the Soviets four years earlier in Seoul. Some actually thought
the Soviets were making headway into a sport created in the United States. The
U.S.A won all eight of its games, averaging 117.3 points per game. The closest
any country would get to the United States was Croatia, which lost by a narrow
The only sour element for the United States would be that they would never
truly be able to avenge the loss at the hands of the Soviets four years
earlier. The Soviet Union had disbanded into many different countries and while
the majority of the '88 Soviet squad was part of the Lithuanian team, it would
not be true revenge.
The Barcelona Games would be the first with four official languages, the
unification of Germany for the first time in 40 years, and the emergence of
separate republics grown out of the downfall of the Soviet Union. It would also
mark the first appearance by South Africa in 32 years, while Cuba and North
Korea returned to the Games after a 12-year hiatus.
The most highly directed athlete of the XXV Olympiad was Russian gymnast Vitaly
Scherbo, who walked away with six gold medals.
Americans, as usual, would dominate track and field, thanks in part to Carl
Lewis, who captured a pair of golds in the long jump and the 4 x 100 meter
While Americans were dominating on the track, Cuba was doing likewise in
boxing, winning seven of 12 possible gold and 14 overall, while China captured
the first Olympic baseball gold medal and earned 16 overall.
Another winner at the Games, was Spain, who recorded 13 gold medals, after
securing just four in the first 96 years of the Games.
The Unified Team would win the overall medal race with 122 total, versus 108
for the United States.