Let’s Discuss the Wild 1996 Summer Olympics

This Olympics was pretty wild, I'm sad my then-four-year-old self wasn't paying attention.


In 1996, the city of Atlanta was given the ultimate honor of hosting the centennial games of the Olympics, a competition for global sporting supremacy. It was the fourth summer games ever hosted by the United States and featured over 10,000 athletes from around the globe. It was also a massive undertaking that saw Atlanta’s homeless displaced, a domestic terror attack, a botched FBI investigation, and at some point in the middle of all that, people played sports.

This particular Olympics also introduced the world to the Magnificent Seven, the American gymnastics team comprised of Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Dominique Dawes, Kerri Strug, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, and Jaycie Phelps. Of these, it was Strug who would have an Olympic moment that would change the face of American gymnastics. During her first attempt on vault, Strug injured her leg, but ended up attempting the vault a second time at the encouragement of her coach Bela Karolyi. The team would go on to win gold, a first for American gymnasts. It was also at this Olympics that Shannon Miller became the second-most decorated woman gymnast in history.

Outside the arena, only eight days into the games, security guard Richard Jewell discovered a pipe bomb hidden in Centennial Olympic Park and attempted to evacuate the crowds that were gathered. He was ultimately unsuccessful and the bomb detonated, killing two and injuring 111 people. Despite his attempt to save lives, Jewell was named a suspect and smeared by the FBI as well as the press before being exonerated. Another man, Eric Rudolph, admitted to planting the bomb in 2005, claiming he did it because the Olympics were celebrating socialism and abortion. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The Olympics continued as planned after the bombing as a show of American resilience and an effort to not cower to terror, as then-president Bill Clinton suggested during his rah-rah get the games going again speech. The US went on to win more medals than any other nation represented at the games, and today the Olympics continue to be an international dick swinging competition.

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