The Atlanta Games in 1996 brought together all 197 member-nations of the International Olympic Committee, a fitting way to commemorate the centennial of the modern Olympics. There were no boycotts or international sanctions to prevent any nation from sending its athletes to Atlanta, and the number of competitors swelled past 10,000. The opening ceremonies ended on an emotional high when Muhammad Ali, his hand trembling due to Parkinson’s Disease, lit the Olympic flame to signal the start of what promised to be the biggest Games of the modern era.
But the Olympic spirit was shattered eight days into the competitions when a terrorist’s bomb exploded inside the Olympic park, killing two people and injuring over a hundred others. It was one of the darkest moments in Olympic history. But despite the bombing, the Games continued, and the USA’s Michael Johnson etched his own place in Olympic history, becoming the first male athlete to win gold medals in both the 200m and 400m. In copping the 200m gold, he set a phenomenal world record of 19.32 seconds. With the USSR no more, the US reclaimed the top spot in the medal standings with 44 gold medals, 18 more than Russia’s 26.
Mansueto Velasco gave the Philippine contingent something to cheer about, barging into the finals of boxing’s lightflyweight division for a shot at the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medal. But he fell, short, losing to Bulgaria’s Daniel Petrov Bojinov in the finals to settle for the silver medal. Nevertheless, it was still the highest medal won by a Filipino since featherweight Anthony Villanueva also bagged a silver 32 years earlier. (Source: Olympic.org)
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