The upcoming Summer Olympics is scheduled for London in July and August, 2012. As with all past Olympics, it will make heroes of those athletes who perform their best and win the coveted gold medals. Here are five examples of the best of the best Olympic winners.
Jesse Owens, Berlin, 1936
Owens started out his life poor in a sharecropping family of 11 kids in Alabama. He made national records as a high school and college track star. However, because he was African-American, he was barred from trying out for the Olympics on his first try.
He made it to the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin at age 24, and astounded everyone by winning four gold medals in track and field. Attending the Olympics was Adolf Hitler, who had loudly declared that his superior Aryan athletes would beat everyone else. When Owens won his fourth gold, Hitler suddenly decided to stop congratulating winners, and angrily stalked out of the stadium.
Nadia Comaneci, Montreal, 1976
For those who were in Montreal and watching the 1976 Winter Olympic Games on TV like I was, we were all mesmerized by a slight, 14-year-old girl who proved she was the world's most fantastic gymnast. Nadia earned seven perfect "10s" on the various events, which led to her to win the all-around gold medal and three other golds, and help her Romanian team earn a silver.
Joan Benoit wins Women's Marathon, Los Angeles 1984American marathon runner Joan Benoit pulled ahead of the pack 14 minutes into the race and never looked back. She ended up finishing two minutes ahead of the next runner and with a time that would have won 13 of the past 20 men's marathons. I watched this race and it was truly an exciting moment in sports.
U.S. Ice Hockey Team, Lake Placid, 1980
On their way to the Olympic gold medal, the young American team of college athletes beat the world's toughest skaters in what was called "The Miracle on Ice". In Russia, top players then were full-time hockey players, while the younger Americans had never faced professionals before.
The win was all the more inspiring because the Russians had already beaten the Americans, 10-3. At the gold medal ceremonies, team captain Mike Eruzione was supposed to stand alone on the platform. However, he insisted that all members of the team join with him.
Michael Phelps, Athens, 2004/Beijing, 2008
The lean, tall 19-year-old from Baltimore stunned the 2004 Athens Olympics by winning six gold medals. Then, he set a swimming record of taking eight gold medals in Beijing in 2008. His Olympic triumphs also resulted in setting several world records that still stand.
Olympic and sports fan Freddy Sherman grew up in Philadelphia and went to school with two Olympic medal winners, Kim Gallagher and David Wharton. Watching their skill and determination inspired him. You can follow Freddy on Twitter: @thefredsherman.
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