Saturday, June 30, 2012

Past Olympics

Another look back at previous Olympic games.  For more of this series, click the 'Olympics' tag at the bottom.
  • The 1984 winter games were held in Sarajevo.  It was the first time the games were held in the Balkans.  Apparently the organizers were surprised at being selected.  They had expected that either Sapporo or Gothenburg would win the games.  They had to overcome some challenges, for instance, they added an elevated start area to make the downhill skiing high enough.  It sounds like these games were highlighted by figure skating.  Torvill and Dean dominated the pairs and Katarina Witt (whom I had a crush on) also won a gold.  The Olympic facilities were apparently later destroyed ('reduced to rubble') by fighting.  
  • Los Angeles hosted the '84 summer games and for the first time in Olympic history, they were privately funded.  I think of these as the McDonalds/Coca-Cola games though that might just be skewed memory.  Peter Ueberroth (of NFL fame) did huge work in drawing in sponsors.  ABC was one of the big spenders and they were able to dictate some of the event times.  The Soviet Union and their allies boycotted the game, almost certainly in retaliation for the US boycott of the 1980 games.  These were the Carl Lewis games as he won four gold medals in track events.  Mary Lou Retton also became a sensation.  Synchronized swimming became a medal event.  The IOC rejiggered their compact so that the rules regarding amateurism were loosened. 
  • In 1988 the winter games stayed in North America as Calgary gave the Canadians their second Olympic games in 12 years.  The timeline was expanded from 12 days to 16 and big sponsor ABC again called the shots for event starting times.  Skiing events were greatly expanded and several demonstration sports were included.  These included short track skating and curling, both of which were well received.  Katarina Witt successfully defended her figure skating title, the first time that had happened since 1936 (and yes, I still had a crush on her).  The precursor to the Special Olympics started here, albeit on a small scale.  From the pictures, it looks like the skating was all indoors.
  • Seoul hosted the 1988 summer games (and man, I don't remember any of it).  The previous two summer games had been marred by large boycotts but only Cuba, Ethiopia and North Korea were large hold outs for Seoul.  Ben Johnson won a gold for Canada and a couple of days later was found to have failed a drug test.  He was banned from ever representing Canada again (for two years).  The Soviets and East Germany dominated the medal counts with 92 gold medals between them.  The American bright spot was Flo-Jo, who blossomed into a track star.  Tennis regained it's tennis spot and table tennis (ping pong) became a medal sport.  And seriously, I don't remember one bit about these games.

1 comment:

carrster said...

I'm really digging these Olympic "lookbacks," Peder. I, like Sarah, had my doubts! ;)