Site: Atlanta, Georgia
Dates: July 20 - August 4
Total Athletes: 15,500
The Summer Olympics returned to the United States for first time since the '1994 Games in Los Angeles and just the second time in the last 64 years. A reocrd 197 nations competed and over 11,000 athletes represented the United States.
However, the 16th Summer Olympiad will best be remembered for what happened outside of the events. The city of Atlanta and the rest of the Olympic community were rocked in the early hours of July 27th. An apparent pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park, killing one woman and injuring 111. The pipe bomb was filled with screws and nails.
"The spirit of the Olympic movement mandates that we continue," said Billy Payne, president of the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. President Bill Clinton concurred. "We cannot let terror win."
The Games went on and in grand fashion.
It was the best kept secret in town, as to who would be the final torch bearer to light the Olympic flame. Muhammad Ali, arguably one of the world's best-known athletes, appeared at the top of structure, took the torch from another great US Olympian, Janet Evans, and ignited the flame to begin the Games.
The United States won the most medals with 101, including 44 gold. Track and Field sensation Michael Johnson backed up his talk of a 200-400 double with gold medal performances. Carl Lewis added to his personal glory with a gold medal in the long jump. It was Lewis' 9th career gold medal. In a bit of stunner, the American men lost in the 4x100 relay to Canada. The USA Women's squad collected both gold medals in their relay event.
Team Competition produced many great performances. Gold Medals went to the Men's Basketball squad, whiile the women picked up gold in basketball, softball, and soccer. Cuba won Olympic Gold in Baseball, but the Americans turned in a gutsy tournament and finished with the respectable Bronze Medal. Nigeria was the upset winner in Men's Soccer, with the heavily-favored Brazil taking home the Bronze Medal.
Individually, American Swimmers Amy Van Dyken took home four golds, while Josh Davis was a perfect 3-for-3 in his races. On the international side, Russian Gymnast Alexei Nemov was the big winner with six medals (2-1-3). Canadian Donovan Bailey took home the title as the World's Fastest Human in a record time of 9.84 seconds.
Hometown favorite Cathy Freeman, a native Australian and a proud Aborigine, brought the Stadium crowd to its feet with a second-place finish in the 400 meters.