The Last Games Of The 20TH Century Were Celebrated in Atlanta Ga

Atlanta 1996: Olympic Games become centenarians


The Atlanta Olympics had a lot to live up to because the Barcelona left the bar very high. After the celebration of the Games of 1992 in Catalan territory, the Olympic party left again Europe to move to the continent. The Games of 1996 would be the last of the twentieth century and would also coincide with the centenary of the first celebration of these in the Modern Era in Athens in 1896.

It seemed therefore that Athens should be the city that hosted such a significant edition of the Games and the Greek capital ran from the beginning as a candidate to host the XXVI edition.

1996 Summer Olympics

Centennial Olympic Park Atlanta GA

The slow road to gender equality in the Games

The continental rotation system ethically prevented Athens from being the organizing city, but the IOC mistrusted the Hellenic ability to have all the necessary facilities ready by the agreed dates so that Georgia, the capital of the state of Georgia in the United States, Turned out to be the one chosen on September 18, 1990, in Tokyo at the 96th session of the International Olympic Committee. The decision was somewhat controversial but even so, Athens returned to present itself as an organizing city being chosen years later for the Games of 2004. Atlanta became, therefore, the third city to host the Olympic Games of summer after the editions celebrated in San Luis (1904) and Los Angeles (1932 and 1984).

It was on this occasion after a vote of the IOC in 1986, in which it took advantage to ‘turn off’ the Olympic Games of winter and of summer. Until then, and since 1924, both were celebrated in the same year but then took the measure of changing the Winter Games of the date being held in 1994 Winter Olympic Games in Lillehammer (Norway).

The sportswoman wins ground

This edition will go down in history as the first in which women accounted for a third of total participation. 34% of athletes were women compared to 28.8% in Barcelona 92 ‘. Although this was a step forward in gender equality in world sport, even today, two decades after the Games, the percentage of women athletes does not reach 50%. In the Atlanta 96 Olympics, ‘the women’s rowing and soccer modalities were introduced for the first time in the history of the Games.

10,318 athletes had the opportunity to fight for gold representing 197 different countries at that time and that hides one of its secrets in the incorporation of several nations that were segregated from the former Soviet Union and that competed for the first time as countries in These Games. Therefore, these Games are being made debutantes, countries that over time have become important in the metal, such as Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Belarus, Slovakia, Georgia or Kazakhstan, among others, who already had the opportunity to participate in the Games of the Winter of 1994.

Ali was in charge of firing the cauldron at the opening ceremony at the Centennial Olympic Stadium which shortly after the celebration of the Games was demolished. Atlanta GA took advantage of the Games to modernize its city. A Games that also did not involve public expenditure since all possible expenses were covered with sponsorships, ticket sales, advertising and others even going so far as to bring economic benefits to the city.

As in other editions, this time there were also incidents that resulted in deaths. On July 27, an explosion occurred at the Centennial Olympic Park, taking the lives of two people and leaving 111 injured. The explosion was provoked by Eric Robert Rudolph, an anti-abortionist and homophobic who tried to get the attention of the United States government. In 2003 he was arrested.

Atlanta 96 was the first time we could see competitions of softball, beach volleyball and mountain biking in addition to the aforementioned rowing competitions and women’s football. Of the 26 sports that were practiced in Atlanta Georiga and the 271 tests disputed are several protagonists.

The basket stays at home

American basketball teams, both men’s and women’s, crushed their opponents. While the Brazilian woman got rid of Brazil in the final one year before the first edition of the WNBA, the men beat Yugoslavia by repeating the success of Barcelona 92 with players like Shaquille O’Neal, Grant Hill or Charles Barkley.
In terms of athletics, Canadian Donovan Bailey won in the 100 meters smooth set a new record in 9.84 seconds while Michael Johnson was the dominator in the 200 and 400 tests smooth. The biggest surprise came in the 20 km’s march as the Ecuadorian Jefferson Perez made the gold against all odds and became the first (and only to date) athlete of Ecuador to get a gold medal. Carl Lewis, 35, got a gold medal in long jump. As for females, the Frenchwoman Marie-Jose Perec was the most outstanding athlete.

Special mention deserves the victory of Cuba in baseball, made noteworthy considering that the competition was disputed on American soil.

Spanish supremacy in cycling

In Atlanta at last professional cyclists were allowed to participate. Miguel Induráin, who came to lose in a painful way in the Tour de France had no rival and made the gold, taking the Spanish Spaniard Abraham Olano the silver medal. Looking for more to do?

Another of the surprises of the Games was played by the men’s soccer team of Nigeria, who made the gold against all odds leaving a generation for the memory commanded by players like Babayaro, Amunike or Kanu.

Marta Baldó, Nuria Cabanillas, Estela Giménez, Lorena Guréndez, Tania Lamarca and Estíbaliz Martínez made the gold in the form of sets of rhythmic gymnastics, a test that debuted in Atlanta Georiga.

Other outstanding athletes were Irish swimmer Michelle Smith, American Amy van Dyken, Russian Aleksandr Popov, Australian Danyon Loader, Russian Denis Pankratov, or Andrea Agassi. Arantxa Sánchez Vicario stayed at the gates of gold and had to settle for silver when defeated by Lindsay Davenport.
The United States was the dominating delegation in the medal winning 101 medals (44 gold). The podium was completed by Russia with 63 medals (26 gold) and Germany, which accumulated 65 medals but 20 gold.

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