"If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win." - Carl Lewis

Confidence is key and keys open doors.

Oct. 16, 1968 - U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists

U.S. Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their black-gloved fists in support of black power on the medals podium, after they had finished first and third in the 200 meters at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

As they turned to face their flags and hear the American national anthem (The Star-Spangled Banner), they each raised a black-gloved fist and kept them raised until the anthem had finished. Smith, Carlos and Australian silver medalist Peter Norman all wore human rights badges on their jackets. In his autobiography, Silent Gesture, Tommie Smith stated that the gesture was not a “Black Power” salute, but a “human rights salute”. The event is regarded as one of the most overtly political statements in the history of the modern Olympic Games.

"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret." - Jackie Joyner-Kersee

"It is better to look ahead and prepare than to look back and regret." - Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Sept. 26, 1988 - Ben Johnson tested positive for steroids and stripped of his 100-meter gold medal

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On September 24, 1988, Ben Johnson won the 100m final at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, lowering his own world record to 9.79 seconds. Johnson would later remark that he would have been even faster had he not raised his hand in the air just before he finished the race. However, Johnson’s urine samples were found to contain stanozolol, and he was disqualified two days later. He later admitted having used steroids when he ran his 1987 world record, which caused the IAAF to rescind that record as well. Johnson and coach Francis complained that they used doping in order to remain on an equal footing with the other top athletes on drugs they had to compete against. In testimony before the Dubin inquiry into drug use, Francis charged that Johnson was only one of many cheaters, and he just happened to get caught. Later, six of the eight finalists of the 100-meter race tested positive for banned drugs or were implicated in a drug scandal at some point in their careers: Carl Lewis, who was given the gold medal, Linford Christie, who was moved up to the silver medal and who went on to win gold at the next Games, Dennis Mitchell, who was moved up to fourth place and finished third to Christie in 1992, and Desai Williams, Johnson’s countryman who won a bronze medal at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. In the ESPN documentary ESPN 30 for 30 Films: 9.79*, eventual silver medallist Christie states, and footage of the race shows, that Lewis “ran out of his lane… two or three times” during the race, which should have resulted in Lewis’ automatic disqualification.

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Sept. 24, 1988 - Jackie Joyner-Kersee sets world record in the heptathlon with 7,291 points

Jackie Joyner-Kersee is retired American athlete, ranked among the all-time greatest athletes in the women’s heptathlon as well as in the women’s long jump. She won three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals, in those two events at four different Olympic Games. Sports Illustrated for Women magazine voted Joyner-Kersee the Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th century, just ahead of Babe Didrikson Zaharias.

At the 1988 Games in Seoul, Joyner-Kersee set the still-standing heptathlon world record of 7,291 points. Five days later, Joyner-Kersee won her second gold medal, leaping to an Olympic record of 7.40 m (24 ft 3 in) in the long jump.

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"When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening any more." - Florence Griffith-Joyner

"The triumph can’t be had without the struggle." - Wilma Rudolph
Did You Know: In 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

"The triumph can’t be had without the struggle." - Wilma Rudolph

Did You Know: In 1960, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympic Games.

Aug. 26, 1999 - Michael Johnson sets 400m World Record in 43.18 seconds

Johnson currently holds the world and Olympic records in the 400 m. He formerly held the world and Olympic record in the 200 m, and the world record in the indoor 400 m. He also currently holds the world’s best time at the 300 m. His 200 m time of 19.32 at the 1996 Summer Olympics stood as the record for over 12 years. Johnson is generally considered one of the greatest long sprinters in the history of track and field.

Clip of the 400m race:

 

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"In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?" - Jesse Owens

"In the end, it’s extra effort that separates a winner from second place. But winning takes a lot more than that, too. It starts with complete command of the fundamentals. Then it takes desire, determination, discipline, and self-sacrifice. And finally, it takes a great deal of love, fairness and respect for your fellow man. Put all these together, and even if you don’t win, how can you lose?" - Jesse Owens

Aug. 11, 1984 - Carl Lewis won his fourth gold medal of the Summer Olympics

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Carl Lewis won his fourth gold medal as part of the US 4×400 meter relay team in the 1984 Summer Olympics. It was the sprinter’s fourth of the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, matching Jesse Owens feat in 1936.

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Aug. 1, 1996 - Michael Johnson won the gold medal for running the 200 m in 19.32 s

Johnson ran 19.66 seconds in the 200 m at the U.S. Olympic Trials, breaking Pietro Mennea's record of 19.72 seconds, which had stood for 17 years. With that performance he qualified to run at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta and prepared to attempt to win both the 200 meters and 400 meters events, a feat never before achieved by a male athlete.

On July 29, Johnson easily captured the 400 m Olympic title with an Olympic Record time of 43.49 seconds, almost one full second ahead of silver medalist Roger Black of Great Britain. At the 200 m final on August 1, Johnson ran the opening 100 meters in 10.12 seconds and finished the race in a world record time of 19.32 seconds, breaking by more than three tenths of a second the previous record he had set in the U.S. Olympic Trials, on the same track one month earlier—the largest improvement ever on a 200 m world record. Some commentators compared the performance to Bob Beamon's record-shattering long jump at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

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"The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God in every circumstance." - Allyson Felix

"The most important lesson that I have learned is to trust God in every circumstance." - Allyson Felix

May 31, 2008 - Usain Bolt runs the 100 m in 9.72 s at the Reebok Grand Prix

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Pushed on by a tail wind of 1.7 m/s, Usain Bolt ran 9.72 s at the Reebok Grand Prix held in the Icahn Stadium in New York City, breaking Powell’s record. The record time was even more remarkable in light of the fact that it was only his fifth senior run over the distance. Gay again finished second and said of Bolt “It looked like his knees were going past my face”. Commentators noted that Bolt appeared to have gained a psychological advantage over fellow Olympic contender Gay.

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Mar. 28, 1990 - Jesse Owens received the Congressional Gold Medal from U.S. President George Bush

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The highest honor Owens received came a full ten years after his death. Congressman Louis Stokes from Cleveland lobbied tirelessly to earn Owens a Congressional Gold Medal. The award was finally given to Owens’s widow by President Bush in 1990. During the ceremony, President Bush called Owens “an Olympic hero and an American hero every day of his life.”

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