Magic Moments of the Olympic Games

Table of Contents



Jim Thorpe wins the pentathlon and the decathlon and becomes the world’s greatest all-round athlete. The medals are taken away from him after it is discovered that he has played baseball before the Olympics. In 1982 the IOC gave the medals back to Thorpe’s family.



Paavo Nurmi , the „Flying Finn“ , wins five gold medals in track and field.


The African American Jesse Owens wins four gold medals in track and field at the Berlin games. This is embarrassing to Adolf Hitler , who wants to prove that the German people are better than all the rest.

Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics

Jesse Owens at the Berlin Olympics



Austrian skier Toni Sailer wins all races in the Olympic skiing events —French skier Jean Claude Killy does the same in 1968.


Abebe Biklia of Ethiopia runs the fastest marathon ever—wearing no shoes . It is the third marathon he has ever run and he is the first African to win an Olympic gold medal.


Bob Beamon leaps 8.9 metres in the long jump. This world record holds for over 20 years.


The USA’s Mark Spitz becomes the world’s most successful swimmer—winning seven gold medals.




Romanian-born Nadia Comaneci gets the first perfect score in gymnastics : 10.0.


Dutch speed skater Eric Heiden becomes the first athlete to win five gold medals in one Olympics. The United States ice hockey team wins the gold medal for the first time after the sport has been dominated by the Russians for the past years.


Ben Johnson sets a new world record in the 100 metre dash, but is then disqualified after the IOC discovers that he has taken steroids.


For the first time professional basketball players are allowed to compete at the Olympics. America’s “Dream Team” with Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan wins easily.



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Related Topics



  • all-round = to be good at many different things
  • decathlon = a sports competition with 10 different events
  • dash = sprint ; a short race
  • discover = find out
  • dominate = to be better than all the others
  • embarrassing = if something makes you feel ashamed or nervous
  • leap = jump
  • pentathlon = a sports competition with 5 different events
  • prove = to show that something is true
  • score = the number of points in a competition
  • speed skater = a person who races on ice as fast as he can
  • steroids = a chemical that athletes take to make their muscles grow faster
  • track and field = sports such as running and jumping