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Ten stunning Olympic moments

By Sam Warlow

Volunteers stand near a set of Olympic Rings at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP
Volunteers stand near a set of Olympic Rings at Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro. Photo / AP

The Olympic Games have produced countless uplifting, jaw dropping and heart-wrenching moments.

We have compiled a list of ten of the most stunning moments seen in the Games' history.

Cassius Clay wins gold in 1960

The 1960 Rome Olympics helped pave the way to success for the late great Muhammad Ali.

At just 18 years old, Cassius Clay's celebrated amateur career was made up of 100 victories from 108 bouts, back-to-back light-heavyweight National Amateur Athletic Union titles and back-to-back Golden Gloves titles in 1959 and 1960. And Clay was a chance to add an Olympic gold medal to his already outstanding accolades.

Clay won his first bout convincingly, stopped by the referee in the second round.

He then won his next fight in a unanimous points decision against Russian Gennadiy Shatkov, who won the middleweight gold medal at the previous 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games.

In the semi-final Clay defeated Australian Tony Madigan in another unanimous decision. Clay then advanced to the final, winning gold after a big final round against Poland's Zbigniew 'Ziggy' Pietrzykowski, a final round that left Pietrzykowski slumped helplessly against the ropes at the final bell.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Eric the Eel

Eric Moussambani was the feel-good story of the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The Equatorial Guinea native is famous for swimming his 100 metre freestyle heat in 1:52.72, more than twice the time of other competitors, and also a personal best.

Before the Olympics, Moussambani had never seen an Olympic sized pool (50m), and took up swimming just eight months before the Games.

Moussambani did his training for the event either in a lake or a 12 metre hotel pool.

Moussambani would later lower his personal best to 57 seconds, but was unable to compete in the 2004 Athens games after having visa issues.

He was later appointed coach for the Equatorial Guinea swimming squad.

Jesse Owens wins four golds

Jesse Owens' road to Berlin in 1936 had been tough. Owens was the son of a sharecropper and grandson of a slave who spent much of his early childhood working in the cotton fields and shoe-shining in Alabama.

Owens' track and field achievements at Fairmount junior high - he won 75 of the 79 events he entered - in 1933 earned him a scholarship at Ohio State.

Three years later he would find Olympic stardom.

American Jesse Owens' success at the 1936 Berlin Olympics represented a counter to Adolf Hitler.

Nazi propaganda promoted concepts of "Aryan racial superiority" and depicted others, including those of African descent, as inferior.

Owens countered this by winning four gold medals.

Owens won gold in the 100 metres, 200 metres, 4x100 metre relay and long jump. His feats were not replicated until fellow American Carl Lewis won four golds in the same events in 1984.

Derek Redmond and dad finish 400 metres

Englishman Derek Redmond's 1992 Barcelona Olympic story is both a heart-breaker and heart-melter. After posting the fastest time of the opening round and coasting through the quarter-final of the 400 metres, Redmond was in great form.

The semi-final would not be as kind to Redmond. After a good start, 250 metres from the finish Redmond tore his hamstring. He fell to the ground in pain, stretchers were brought out, but Redmond had decided he wanted to finish the race.

He hobbled along the track and was soon joined by his father, who had barged past security to assist his son in one of the most uplifting moments in sporting history. As the pair crossed the finish line, they were met with a standing ovation from the 65,000 strong crowd.

Usain Bolt rewrites the record books

In 2008, a 21 year old Usain Bolt was ready to take the world by storm.

He would post jaw dropping numbers on his way to three golds in Beijing.

Bolt broke new ground, becoming the first man to run 100 metres in under 9.70 seconds as he beat his own world record, clocking in at 9.69 seconds in the final.

All after visibly slowing down towards the end with an untied shoelace...

But Bolt wasn't done there, he would run the fastest 200 metres ever, clocking in at 19.3 seconds flat. He then added another world record to his name in the 4x100 metre relay as he helped his Jamaican team to a record 37.1 second finish.

Bolt would later run the 100 metres as fast as 9.58 seconds.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos salute

At the 1968 Mexico Olympics, American Tommie Smith won the 200 meter race with a world-record time of 19.83 seconds and countryman John Carlos won third place with a time of 20.10 seconds. Australian Peter Norman finished second with a time of 20.06 seconds

Smith and Carlos then stood on the podium and each raised a black-gloved fist during the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner".

The pair received their medals shoeless, but wearing black socks, to represent black poverty. Smith wore a black scarf around his neck to represent black pride, and Carlos had his tracksuit top unzipped to show solidarity with US blue collar workers and wore a necklace of beads which he described "were for those individuals that were lynched, or killed and that no-one said a prayer for, that were hung and tarred. It was for those thrown off the side of the boats in the middle passage."

All three athletes wore Olympic Project for Human Rights (OPHR) badges after Norman, a critic of Australia's White Australia Policy, expressed empathy with their ideals.

The 'Dream Team' destroy everyone and win gold

The 1992 Olympics marked the first time professionals could be selected for men's basketball teams. The United States didn't hold back.

Arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled showed no mercy, dismantling everyone in their path.

They won by margins of up to 68, including a semi final with a victory margin of 51points.

The final against Croatia wasn't much closer with a victory margin of 32.

The team ran out a star studded roster, with names like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Bird and Scottie Pippen to name just a few.

Michael Phelps bags eight golds

In 2008, Michael Phelps did what no one has ever done before. He won eight gold medals in a single games, the single greatest haul by any athlete.

Phelps won gold in the 100 metre butterfly, 200 metre freestyle, 200 metre butterfly, 200 metre medley, 400 metre medley, 4x100 metre medley, 4x200 metre freestyle and 4x100 metre medley.

On top of his eight golds, seven of his eight wins were also new world records in terms of time.

Unfortunately, his 100 metre butterfly time was only good enough for the Olympic record.

Ben Johnson tests positive after winning gold

In 1988 Canadian Ben Johnson won the 100 metres in a world record time of 9.79 seconds, and then claimed it would have been faster had he not rasied his hand as he approached the finish line.

Johnson may have been better off keeping his hand down, as he was disqualified three days later after anabolic steroid stanozolol was found in his blood and urine samples.

Johnson's coach later spoke out saying that Johnson was only one of many cheaters, and that he was the only one who happened to get caught.

Johnson didn't do a lot to help his image as time went on, appearing in this strange series of commercials:

The Fosbury Flop makes Olympic debut

Although it may seem common to us now, in 1968 Dick Fosbury's technique looked a little strange.

After finding little success with the traditional scissor style, Dick Fosbury experimented and found immediate success with his own new style that he eventually perfected.

The technique was later coined the Fosbury Flop, and earned the man a gold medal in 1968 along with the title of "the laziest high jumper ever".

- NZ Herald

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