Most Memorable Olympic Moments in History
The Olympics is a fun event that allows even the most couchbound person to dream of athletic prowess and the unending glory of the medal podium. As we leave behind the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and look forward to the next games (see you in the summer of 2020 in Tokyo!), we’re reminded of just how effective the Olympics can be in terms of diplomacy and international friendship.
This year, North and South Korea marched under a flag of unity, and we saw individual athletes give their absolute peak performances in the hope of winning glory for their country. Let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Olympic games.
1. Female Athletes Allowed to Participate – Paris, 1900
During the ancient Olympic games, and the first few modern ones, women were not allowed to compete in this event since it was considered an expression of masculine strength and physical prowess.
The 1900 Summer Olympic Games in Paris were the first time that women were allowed to compete. Sailor Hélène de Pourtalès was the very first women ever to be awarded an Olympic trophy as the now standard gold, silver, and bronze medals weren’t instituted until 1928. At the time, women were only permitted to compete in sailing, tennis, golf, and croquet.
2. Civil Rights Protest on the Podium – Mexico City, 1968
Although there were several controversial moments that took place at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City, the most visible moment happened on the medal podium for the men’s 200-meter race.
Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who were the gold and bronze medalists respectively, both dropped their heads and raised their gloved hands in a Black Power salute during the playing of the American anthem. For their silent protest, they were banned from the Olympic Village and suspended from the American team. The Australian silver medalist, Peter Norman, was later ostracized for merely supporting Smith and Carlos.
3. Forerunner to the modern Paralympic Games – London, 1948
The 1948 Summer Olympic Games in London were the first games played after a 12-year hiatus due to the Second World War. This year was also the first Olympics that hosted a specific event for disabled athletes — a one-day sports competition called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games which later evolved into the Paralympic Games. British soldiers that had been injured during WWII were invited to participate, and it was such a success that it was repeated in 1952, with Dutch and Israeli veterans competing as well.