4. 1996: Kerri Strug delivers
The gold medal aspirations of the "Magnificent 7" U.S. women's gymnastics team in Atlanta seemed to be teetering. After two falls in the vault by Dominique Moceanu, the Americans needed a big score from 18-year-old Kerri Strug. The vault was her speciality, but on her first of two tries she missed on a Yurchenko 1 1/2 twist, landing on her backside and injuring her left ankle.
Given just 90 seconds to decide if she could attempt her second vault, Strug told coach Bela Karolyi, "I can't do it. I can't feel my leg." The coach told her the team needed a score of 9.6 from her to win the gold medal. It actually wasn't true. The Americans likely would have won regardless. But Strug, at least, apparently didn't know that.
She raced down the runway, completed the vault, stuck the landing, then hopped on her right ankle a couple times before collapsing. Her score of 9.712 clinched the team crown. Minutes later, wearing a soft cast on her ankle, Strug was carried to the medal podium by Karolyi in a moment oozing with melodrama.
5. 1956: Blood in the Water
Barely a month after the Soviet Union sent 200,000 troops into Hungary to quell a revolt against Communist rule, the two countries met in the semifinals of the water polo competition at Melbourne. The Hungarians won 4-0, but the match quickly deteriorated into what became known as the "Blood in the Water" game.
With a minute left, the referee halted the game after Hungarian star Ervin Zador -- who had scored two goals -- was sucker-punched in the eye by a Soviet player. The image of Zador emerging from the pool, blood streaming down his face, was captured in an iconic photograph. The pro-Hungary crowd spilled toward the pool deck, threatening the Soviet players, who needed a police escort to safely exit the facility. Zador received eight stitches and his eye was so swollen he could not play in the gold medal game, where Hungary beat Yugoslavia 2-1.
Zador didn't return home after the Games, instead defecting to the U.S. He settled in the Central Valley community of Ripon where for years he coached swimming -- including a young Mark Spitz -- before his death at the age of 77 on April 28 of this year.
6. 1992: A father-son moment
Plagued by injury throughout his career, British 400-meter runner Derek Redmond had undergone five surgeries, causing him to miss the 1988 Seoul Games and making him wonder if he truly was Olympic caliber. But he reached the semifinals in Barcelona, where at about 150 meters he felt his right hamstring pop. Determined to finish the race, he ignored stretcher bearers and began to hop down the track -- far behind the rest of the field.
Watching the scene unfold from the grandstands, Jim Redmond ran onto the track, met his son and told him he didn't have to continue. "I've got to finish," Redmond said. So the athlete draped his left arm over his father's shoulder and the two made their way around the oval, Derek Redmond sobbing before it was over.
Just before the finish line, Jim Redmond let go and allowed his son to take the final steps on his own, the stadium crowd rewarding him with a standing ovation.
7. 1984: Decker's crash landing
One year after scoring a double victory in the 1,500 and 3,000 at the first IAAF world championships in Helsinki, Mary Decker was the favorite in the 3,000 at the Los Angeles Games. Providing a challenge was 18-year-old Zola Budd, South African-born but representing Great Britain. At 5 feet tall, just 82 pounds, and running barefoot, Budd had broken the 3,000-meter world record of her hero, Decker, earlier in the year, creating a surge of pre-Olympics hype.
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