In anticipation of Beijing, we asked legendary NBC sportscaster Bob Costas for his 5 favorite Olympic moments. Here’s what he came up with:
1. Muhammad Ali lights the flame at the ’96 Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta.
“It’s amazing that they kept it a secret. Literally, only five or six people knew for sure. When Ali emerged from the shadows to take the torch from Janet Evans, there was actually a gasp from the crowd, then a brief silence. When recognition set in, a thunderous applause followed.”
2. Australian Cathy Freeman wins the 400m at the 2000 Sydney Games.
“As a national hero and symbol of Aboriginal heritage, Freeman faced enormous pressure to win. It seemed the whole country was watching her race. And she delivered.”
3. American Michael Johnson wins the 200m in ’96 in Atlanta.
“He not only won on home turf, he shattered a 20-year-old record, and did it wearing gold shoes, running in that straight-up style reminiscent of Jesse Owens, with cameras flashing everywhere.
4. Sarah Hughes wins the Gold Medal for figure skating in 2002 in Salt Lake.
“I’m far from being a figure skating expert but you didn’t need to be to appreciate this. Here was a likable girl, who somehow gave the performance of a lifetime at just the right time. The look of pure surprise and joy on her face was one of those moments that cuts through the crassness and hype we sometimes find in sports.”
5. Pyambu Tuul, a legally blind marathon runner, completes the ’92 race in Barcelona.
“Tuul, a legally blind marathon runner from Mongolia, finishes the marathon hours after the rest of the field and actually enters the Olympic Stadium during the Closing Ceremony. Later he says, ‘My country didn’t send me here to win the race, they sent me here to finish it.'”