The 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games was the first time that live Olympic sports were broadcast. As all eyes are back on Japan, Niamh Hayes recalls top TV moments from the events
1. Michelle Smith, Atlanta, 1996
After appearances in 1988 and 1992, Michelle Smith made her mark in 1996 when she won three gold medals in the 400m freestyle, 200m and 400m individual medley, and bronze in the 200m butterfly. While her success was celebrated in Ireland, her quick rise in the sport raised many eyebrows. Two years later she was given a four-year suspension from the sport, but she remains Ireland’s most successful Olympian.
2. Carl Lewis, Los Angeles, 1984
American track and field athlete, Carl Lewis won gold in the 100m, 200m, 4x100m relay and the long jump, but his tactics in winning the long jump were surrounded with controversy. Carl did as little as possible to win the gold, ensuring his first jump would be good enough to win, while fouling the second attempt and passing on his remaining four jumps, so that he would be fresh for the upcoming 200m and relay. His supporters were unaware of his tactics and boos were heard across the stadium.
3. Men’s Basketball, Munich, 1972
The USA had never lost an Olympic basketball final, but the USSR put a stop to that. As the clock ticked down, the USA prematurely celebrated their victory by one point, but seconds were added back to the clock which gave the Soviets the chance to secure a basket and the gold medals. The Americans refused to receive the silver medals.
4. Tommie Smith & John Carlos, Mexico City, 1968
American sprinters, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, took to the podium to receive their gold and bronze medals for the 200m race, and as their national anthem played out, they raised a black-gloved fist to protest against racism in America. The Black Power Salute is still one of the most influential moments of protest in sports history.
5. Steve Redgrave, Sydney, 2000
In 1996, Steve Redgrave won his fourth gold medal for rowing at his fourth consecutive Games. He vowed to never get back in a boat again but by 2000, he was back and went on to win his fifth gold medal, making him the most successful male rower in Olympic history.
6. Live phone call, London, 2012
Hannah Craig competed for Ireland in the K-1 Canoe Slalom event in London. After she received a penalty, RTÉ’s canoeing analyst, Ike Jacob, attempted to reach Karl Dunne, the team manager. Karl returned the call while Ike was live on air. Prompted by an amused Michael Lyster, Ike took the call to get a live update on the penalty. Hannah went on to finish 10th in the final.
7. Greg Louganis, Seoul, 1988
The American athlete hit the back of his head against the springboard in his first dive of the Games, when he didn’t secure enough distance away from it. He received stitches and medical attention for a diagnosed concussion but returned to the pool to win two gold medals.
8. Muhammad Ali, Atlanta, 1996
Muhammad Ali lit the torch at the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics and later, during the men’s basketball final, was presented with a gold medal, a replacement for the one he won in Rome in 1960, which ended up in the Ohio River. Allegedly, he threw it away after a man tried to steal it, the same night Ali had been refused service at a restaurant, but later it was claimed that the medal was simply lost.
9. Super Saturday, London, 2012
Within 44 minutes inside the Olympic stadium, Great Britain secured three gold medals on home soil. Jessica Ennis-Hill won the heptathlon, Greg Rutherford won the long jump, and Mo Farah won the 10,000m race. The day has been coined Great Britain’s greatest moment at a summer Olympic Games.
10. Paul & Gary, O’Donovan, Rio, 2016
They may have won silver medals, but it wasn’t just their rowing skills that captured the hearts of the nation and the world. No, Paul and Gary O’Donovan won the admiration of everyone across the globe with their post semi-final interview with RTÉ, where they revealed the secrets behind their success – steak and spuds, a drop of poitín, go from A to B as fast as you can go, close your eyes and pull like a dog!