Some would lament how the Olympic Games turned into a commercial feast. They won't be far from the truth, but the ideals remained the same. They would grudgingly admit it, as everyone loved winners. And nothing could be more special than someone who managed to exceed beyond expectations. A superhuman perhaps.
Let's take a look at some Olympic winners, and why they continue to fascinate the public. Here they are:
Mark Spitz. He won seven gold medals during the 1972 Olympics, which included four individual events it happened when the US male swimmers were head and shoulders above their competitors. It wasn't the same case for the American women, who would keep an eye on their East German rivals. A classic Cold War scenario, right? There was much more, but it would be better to reveal the details in another post. Let's go back to Spitz. Not a few didn't like his remarks on Michael Phelps many years ago. The Baltimore native won eight gold medals during the 2008 Olympics, which included five individual events. Some would wonder about Spitz and Phelps swimming against each other in the butterfly event. (The Americans could call it their own. They would let past results speak for themselves.) It would be hard to predict the outcome, but Phelps could be faster on the second half. Spitz might object, as his feat in Munich was no less spectacular than Phelps's achievement in Beijing. Spitz did something special, which took a generation before another one matched it.
Nadia Comaneci. No one would grasp the impact of her achievement during the Montreal Olympics, as getting a perfect score would seem frequent. She was the first to do it, and no one saw it coming. It happened forty years ago, which seemed like centuries ago. After all, many gymnasts stole the spotlight. And they also had their own perfect routines to boast to the audience. Comaneci was like a whiff of fresh air.
Eric Heiden. He won five gold medals in speedskating during the 1980 Winter Olympics. This was a monumental achievement, as no other speedskater managed to duplicate it (or even come close to it). The Dutch skaters ruled the rink. There were skaters who specialized in the sprint events, and there were those who have the stamina to handle the long distances. But there wasn't a Dutch counterpart of Heiden. It remains to be seen if the American public sees another skater like him.
Carl Lewis. He won four gold medals during the 1984 Olympics, matching the total of Jesse Owens. But some would point out the historical significance behind Owens's achievement. Many were aware of how he dealt with racism after his remarkable performance in Berlin. ("Race" depicted Owens's rise, and how his victories became more than personal achievements.) Competing in four events won't be an easy feat, but setting world records would be another thing. Usain Bolt did it in Beijing, which Lewis didn't let pass. It might be a case of sour graping, as records were meant to be broken. But Lewis achieved something else. He won the long jump in four successive Olympics. Not an easy thing to do, as he competed against Mike Powell. In case it won't ring a bell, he would be the world record holder.
The (US) Dream Team. Some might have suspected the decision to allow professional basketball players to compete in the Olympics have something to do with America's fading dominance in the sports. It would rather be cynical, but there was so much excitement when a group of NBA players, future Hall of Famers, would play in Barcelona. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson. There was hardly any competition, but the spectators were dazzled and entertained by their moves and shots.