Michael Johnson was the preeminent figure in athletics in the Nineties and, such was his domination of the 400-metre event, arguably the greatest runner ever to compete at that distance.
In the 400-metre final at the World Athletics Championships at the Estadio Olímpico in Seville, Spain on August 26, 1999, Johnson produced a new world record time of 43.18 seconds.
In so doing, he beat the previous best, 43.29 seconds, set by fellow American Harry Lee Reynolds Jr., popularly known as ‘Butch’ Reynolds, in Zürich, Switzerland on August 17, 1988. Reynolds’ record was a significant improvement on the previous mark, 43.86 seconds, set by compatriot Lee Evans at the Mexico City Olympics on October 18, 1968; Evans’ record was set at an altitude of 7,349 feet and annotated as such in some record books, but nevertheless stood for nearly twenty years.
Achieved at low altitude – Seville is just 23 feet above sea level on average – Johnson’s record did not stand for quite so long, but it was not until August 14, 2016, nearly 17 years later, that is was finally broken. In the 400-metre final at the Rio de Janiero Olympics on August 14, 2016, South African Wayde van Niekerk won the gold medal in a new world record time of 43.03 seconds, 0.15 seconds faster than Johnson. Johnson described the result as ‘a massacre’ and speculated that van Niekerk, aged just 24 at the time, might be able to achieve what he could not by running 400 metres in less than 43 seconds.
Arguably the most iconic symbol of the modern Olympic Games, the Olympic rings were designed by Charles Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin in 1912 and publicly presented for the first time in 1913. By that stage, Baron de Coubertin was president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), having played a pivotal role in the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896.The Olympic flag, bearing the Olympic rings, was officially raised for the first time during the opening ceremony of the Games of the VII Olympiad in Antwerp, Belgium in 1920.
The full colour version of the design consists of five uniformly-sized, interlocked, coloured rings centred on a white background. From left to right, the Olympic rings are coloured blue, yellow, black, green and red; the blue, black and red rings are positioned at the top and the yellow and green rings at the bottom. According to Baron de Coubertin, ‘This design is symbolic; the five colours are those that appear on at least one of all the national flags of the world at the present time united by Olympism.’ According to the Olympic Charter, ‘The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents [Asia, Africa, North and South America, Europe and Australia] and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games.’
The world record for the triple jump, which stands at 18.29 metres, or exactly 60 feet, was set by Englishman Jonathan Edwards at the World Athletics Championship in Gothenburg, Sweden on August 7, 1995. Indeed, Edwards had already broken the world record twice before that year, jumping 17.98 metres – a centimetre further than the existing record, set by Willie Banks in 1985 – in Salamanca, Spain on July 18 and improving his own record by 18 centimetres, or 7 inches, when jumping 18.16 metres in the first round in Gothenburg.
Edwards retired from professional athletics in 2003 but, while American Kenny Harrison jumped 18.09 metres at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, USA on July 27, 1996, it was not until the World Athletics Championship in Beijing, China on August 27, 2015, that anyone really came with hailing distance of Edwards’ record. On that occasion, another American, Christian Taylor, was involved in a protracted battle with Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo before producing a final jump of 18.21 metres. That effort remains the closest anyone has come to beating the world record in two-and-a-half decades, although yet another American, Will Haye produced the third-best jump in history, 18.14 metres, in Long Beach, California, USA on June 29, 2019. Nevertheless, Edwards remains the first and, so far, only man to jump 60 feet and his world record has acquired an almost ‘mythical’ quality.
Born in Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Romania on November 12, 1961, Nadia Comaneci is best remembered as the first gymnast in Olympic history to be awarded a ‘perfect’ 10 score ( The closet I get to a perfect ten is my number coming up when playing best high roller casino ). She did so in the asymmetric, or uneven, bars round of the women’s team competition at the Games of the XXI Olympiad in Montreal, Canada on July 18, 1976. In fact, aged just 14 and weighing in at an ethereal 6st 2lb, Comanceci was awarded a total of seven such scores – four on the asymmetric bars and three on the beam – en route to three gold medals, including in the women’s individual all-around competition, at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Unsurprisingly, her performances created a sensation and her an international gymnastic superstar.
Four years later, at the Summer Olympics in Moscow, in what has been described as a ‘turbulent’ gymnastics competition, Comaneci was awarded two more perfect scores on the way to winning two more gold medals, albeit controversially, in the beam and floor events. Comaneci retired from competition in 1984 and, following in the footsteps of Bela Karolyi and Geza Pozsar, former head coach and choreographer of the Romanian team, defected to the West in 1989. She initially settled in Montreal, Canada, home of online casino canada, but later moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where she met, and later married, fellow Olympic gold medallist Bart Conner. Together, they own and operate the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy and are involved with numerous charities, including the Special Olympics.