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Most Inspirational Olympic Moments of All Time

olympics.jpgIf you’re an Olympics junkie like me, then you’re probably salivating for the Beijing Games to start on August 8, 2008, at 8:08 pm. Every four years I just can’t get enough of the Olympics. Everything about the Games gets my blood pumping–the big-name athletes favored to win, the lesser-known athletes who perform stunning upsets, the heartbreaking losses, the acts of heroic sportsmanship, the heartwarming back stories, and, of course, the inspirational moments that rise forth in every Game to become part of our collective human story.
In the spirit of the Games, Beliefnet has gathered together the 15 most inspirational Olympic moments. There are stories and athletes in this gallery that you won’t forget: Kerri Strug and the “Miracle on Ice.” There are ones that will jog your memory, like the Jamaican bobsled team and Derek Redmond. And then there are inspirational moments that you may not remember at all, but upon reading about them in this gallery, you’ll see why they had to be included.
So check out this gallery and get inspired all over again. And if you think we missed any, leave your comment below.

  • Reaganite in NYC

    I appreciate the sentiment with this blog. Like most people, I enjoy watching the Olympics — both the Summer Games and the Winter Games. I draw strength from the stories of athletes who overcome great odds.
    Sadly, however, my thoughts this month will not be drawn to the sporting events in Beijing.
    Instead, I will be thinking of all the free-thinking people in mainland China who are languishing in prisons because of their political, social and religious beliefs. Human rights violation have INCREASED in China precisely BECAUSE they are hosting the Games.
    This regime has made a total mockery of the guarantees they made to the Int’l Olympic Committee as a condition for hosting the games. These Olympics have turned into a kind of Potemkin Village as the regime has literally “swept up” all the real and potential dissedents — both religious and political — and “put them away and out of sight” in a variety of detention camps.
    Sports heroes inspire me. So, too, do the many martyrs for political rights and religious freedom in China.

  • Marie

    I agree with most of your moments…but you forgot Mary Lou Retton and Brian Boitano!

  • mary ann jones

    How about the beauty and grace Dorothy Hamill?

  • Erin

    What about the womens figure skating at the 1994 olympics. Two great comebacks .

  • Richard

    You omitted the story of Oksana Baiul, the Ukranian girl who won a gold medal in Lillehammer. In the skating competition, which was overshadowed by the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding controversy, Oksana did her country proud by winning the figure skating gold in the first time that the Ukraine competed as an independent country after decades of Soviet rule. Her story is the most inspiring of ’em all!

  • Norma Wayland

    Enjoyed the 15 most memorable moments in Olympic moments. it was very interesting and brought back some memories of events I thought I had forgotten. Hope the games turn out good in 2008 for everyone involved.

  • windyblue

    I would have to say there where several, Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamel,
    They could skate and it was hard back than now a days its more jumps and flips. Scot Hamilton, I saw him in person once, they man can skate and he is wonderful.
    The worse moment was summer Olymipic Munich, 1972, I remember being glued to the Tv watching that It was horrible.
    And I pray that never happens again.
    And little ( now a grown woman) Nadia Comaneci she was an inspiration to all girls who want to be a gymnist.

  • Marshann74

    Mary Lou Retton, Scott Hamilton,Oksanna Biuol.Actually there are too many to mention. The fact that they got there,is in itself outstanding.

  • Carl Rath

    Bart Conner’s 10 in ’84
    Conner is the only American male gymnast to have won gold medals at every level of competition, including international, national and collegiate
    MARK Spitz’s 7 Gold Medals (swimming) in ’72

  • Larry Parker

    How on earth could you forget John Carlos and Tommie Smith in 1968, the bronze and gold medalists in that year’s 200 meter race?
    They knew the wrath of the world would come on them for their simple demonstration of solidarity with their fellow African-Americans on the medal rostrum, a gloved fist-in-the-air salute.
    But they did it anyway, and — like Muhammad Ali for his jail sentence during that awful era — they are recognized as heroes of civil disobedience today. Carlos and Smith, of course, were immediately and summarily banned from the Olympics for their actions.
    Interestingly, the silver medalist, Peter Norman of Australia, suggested the salute to Carlos and Smith, and wore a badge on the rostrum on behalf of the Olympic Project for Human Rights, the pro-civil rights organization Carlos and Smith were members of.
    Being white, nothing happened to Norman.

  • Carmen

    What about Katarina Witt’s skating to “Where Have All The Flowers” to honor the memory of Sarajevo now that it lay in ruins due to war?

  • Steve Gideon

    The absent two that stand out the most in my mind are (#2) the Chinese gymnast who finished his routine on the rings with a perfect landing on a fractured leg (was it Li Ning?) and (#1) Bruce Jenner coming around the final turn in the 1500 meters, the last event of the decathlon, in Montreal in 1976. Jenner had already clinched the gold and only needed to finish in the top 5 or 6, I believe, but gave the event 100%, grimacing in pain as he rounded the last turn, and winning the race. For me, that’s as good an example as we’ve seen of the commitment to best personal effort as the heart of the Olympic spirit.

  • anonymous999

    Well, I think BeliefNet came up with a nice list.
    However, as far as spirituality is concerned, the resistance to Hitler expressed in the 1936 Olympics…by many athletes, not just Jesse Owens, remains a strong spiritual stance against oppression.
    I don’t know that it is appropriate to put any other act on that level.
    Especially, the resistance of German athletes of Jewish descent, who actually put their lives on the line in order to resist Hitler.
    Less well known stories, but acts of incredible heroism.
    Certainly Jim McKay’s reporting of the Munich attacks was deeply moving.
    And many of the stories that were reported were moving as well.
    What some folks don’t seem to know about Kerri Strug’s moment, is that Bela Karoli was accused of child abuse. And there is a great deal of controversy about the methods used to train these gymnasts…specifically that they are exceedingly dangerous and have led to many spinal cord injuries and other horrible injuries. While Kerri Strug is obviously heroic, is the coach who encouraged her to break her foot heroic…or just basically a guy who cares more about victory than someone’s health. What if the leg didn’t just break, but she was permanently crippled? Is that ok? And how does a young woman, under that kind of international pressure, refuse to vault?
    So, choosing that as the number one incident may be popular, but within that story are serious allegations of coaches pushing athletes way too far…and that backed up by families who sought legal remedies for the harm that those practices caused them.
    Ok, maybe that is a little bit of being a killjoy. But, really, the kind of programs that they run these gymnasts through..and at such young, young ages…seems more like putting kids in military training, than it does like kids enjoying athletic competition. And by kids…I mean kids…6, 7, 8 years old.

  • Betty Rutherford

    What about the movie American Flyers with Kevin Kostner? A great movie about bike racing? I thought that was great! They aren’t just riding tricycles you know!

  • ses

    alot happened to peter norman in australia. He was not a popular man and was blacklisted from any olympics. Anyways, his nephew made a documentary on him. I didnt even know who he was until i saw his nephew on tv talking about him. I think back then they had alot of racism going on in oz, what with the lost generations and all so they didnt like the fact that he was supporting the cause.
    Also, I’d like to know if you know a runner that ran a race where he was winning, but then something happened to another runner and he went back to help him out and then went on to win the race. I dont remember his Nationality or what race it was or what olympics.

  • high blood pressure natural remedies

    I don’t really see how Eddie the Eagle was inspiring. The rules have changed and he would not get in today.
    If anything, he made a mockery of the events and this was unfair on the other participants. Though very funny 😀

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