Whether you were watching in the stadium or from the comfort of your own home, you’ll have witnessed those life-changing moments at the Olympics – the ones that made you gasp, made you cry and just took your breath away. Here are 21 of the most important moments in the Olympics that actually changed history…
Michael Phelps, 2008
Swimmer Michael Phelps managed to grab himself a whopping eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympic Games for the USA, a feat that no one believed could be accomplished.
Dream Team, 1992
In the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992, America put together a dream team for basketball, including the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Ian McCourt. The team, of course, won gold.
Cassius Clay, 1960
An unknown light heavyweight at the time, Cassius Clay – or as we know him, Muhammad Ali – beat his opponent in the finals by a long shot, and his career took a turn towards stardom as a result.
Usain Bolt, 2008
Usain Bolt not only changed the Olympics as we know it but also his career and life when he competed in the 100- and 200-metre races at the Beijing Olympics, running them in record time.
Or, as it came to be known, Black September. Terrorism ruled these Olympic Games as Israeli athletes were taken hostage in a horrifying incident that tainted the games, and still does to this day.
At the Munich games in 1972, Mark Spitz did what no one believed he could do – he won seven gold medals throughout the 1972 Olympics, all of them won in world record times.
Paula Radcliffe, 2004
Paula Radcliffe was not unused to competing, but the extreme temperatures of Athens in the 2004 games got the better of her, and Paula stopped running, ruining her Olympic dreams.
Derek Redmond, 1992
No one will forget the image of Derek Redmond crossing the finish line of the 400 meters, leaning on his father for support due to injury. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once.
Nadia Comaneci, 1976
The 14-year-old gymnast from Romania was only just old enough to compete at the games, yet still ended up scoring the perfect 10 as she did! That’s pretty impressive stuff, right?!
Chris Hoy, 2008
In the Beijing Olympics back in 2008, Chris Hoy the legendary cyclist became the first Briton in over a century to win not one, not two but three gold medals in a single Olympic Games.
Wilma Rudolph, 1960
In the 1960 Olympic Games, Wilma Rudolph managed to win three track and field gold medals in Rome. She overcame childhood polio to do this, which is truly incredible.
Carl Lewis, 1984
Carl Lewis won four gold medals at the 1984 Olympic Games, an unrivalled feat within the track and field section of the games. This accolade went down in the history books!
Don Thompson, 1960
An English race walker, Don Thompson was the only Briton to take a gold medal home from the Olympic Games in 1960. The Brits salute him, for preventing embarrassment.
Linford Christie, 1992
Linford Christie became the oldest person to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games when he thrashed his competition in the 100m races in 1992. He’s a legend to this day.
Ben Johnson, 1988
In the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Ben Johnson won a gold medal. However, he later tested positive for steroid use during the competition. He went down in history for all the wrong reasons!
Zola Budd, 1984
17-year-old Zola Budd ran a race against her idol, and main competitor, Mary Decker, barefoot. She and Decker ended up tangling legs, with Decker falling to the floor while Budd ran on… being booed.
Dick Fosbury, 1968
In the 1968 Olympics, high jumper Dick Fosbury added a new technique to the games, a move that would come to be known as “the flop”. It was truly iconic and still used today!
Florence Griffith-Joyner, 1988
Competing in the 1988 Olympics, ‘Flo-Jo’ had gone from hair stylist to world record breaking athlete in just over a year – and she always had the craziest nails to be remembered by, too!
Greg Louganis, 1988
The moment was surreal, and no one could quite believe it – world class diver, Greg Louganis, taking a leap and ending up cracking his head against the edge of the diving board.
Eric Moussambani, 2000
Eric Moussambani could hardly swim and had never even set foot into an Olympic pool when he participated in the Sydney Olympic Games. He was everyone’s favourite to watch that year.
Kelly Holmes, 2004
Never able to compete to her full ability due to continual injury and illness, the 2004 Olympic Games saw Kelly Holmes become a hero as she crossed the finish line and won a medal.