Legends Of The Olympic Games - 1984 To 2016

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Legends of the Olympic Games - 1984 to 2016

Tokyo, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Jun, 2021 ) :The 32nd Summer Olympics finally start on July 23 in Tokyo after a year's delay because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is AFP Sport's fourth set of five legends of the Games: - Steve Redgrave: awesome oarsman - The message could not have been any clearer when, at Lake Lanier outside Atlanta in 1996, Britain's Redgrave declared: "Anybody who sees me go near a boat has my permission to shoot me." Redgrave had, at the age of 34, just won rowing gold for the fourth consecutive Games and announced his retirement in unequivocal fashion.

Yet at Sydney 2000 -- after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and suffering for eight years with debilitating ulcerative colitis -- Redgrave put his 38-year-old body through a punishing training regime one last time and achieved another Olympic triumph, as a member of the coxless fours.

In doing so Redgrave became the only endurance sport athlete to win five golds in five consecutive Games: 1984 (coxed fours), 1988, 1992, 1996 (coxless pairs) and 2000 (coxless fours).

His secret? "I decided that diabetes had to live with me, not me live with it," he said. The American dominated the 200m and 400m sprints in the final decade of the 20th century, winning four gold medals, and he was unlucky not to have won more.

Johnson arrived at Barcelona in 1992 unbeaten in 54 straight finals at 400m, but a bout of food poisoning left him weak and he was eliminated in the semi-final.

He failed to make the 200m line-up for the 2000 Games after pulling up with a muscle strain in the US Olympic trials, but was part of the 4x400m US team that won in Sydney, only to be disqualified eight years later after teammate Antonio Pettigrew admitted doping.

Vehemently opposed to doping, Johnson immediately returned his medal to the IOC, saying he had won it "unfairly".

But he remains the only man to win the Olympic 400m twice, in 1996 and 2000, after taking his first gold in the Barcelona 4x400m relay.

In Atlanta 1996 he smashed his own 200m world record by more than three-tenths of a second with an incredible 19.32sec in the final, the largest improvement in the history of the distance.

That record stood for 12 years until Usain Bolt ran 19.30 in Beijing. Only Bolt and Yohan Blake have ever run faster in the 25 years since Johnson set his mark.

Johnson's 400 metres world record of 43.18sec, set in 1999, lasted 17 years until South African Wayde van Niekerk ran 43.03sec in winning gold at Rio 2016.

The swimmer's five gold medals make "Thorpedo" the most decorated Australian Olympian.

Three came in his home Sydney 2000 Games (400m free, 4x200m and 4x100m freestyle relays) and two more in Athens 2004 (400m free, 200m free).

Michael Phelps opted to compete in the Athens 2004 200m freestyle in a quest to win a record eight gold medals, which Thorpe called "impossible".

The final was dubbed the "Race of the Century" as Thorpe and Phelps lined up against two former world record-holders, Pieter van den Hoogenband of the Netherlands and Australia's Grant Hackett.

It proved Thorpe's greatest victory. Van den Hoogenband turned more than a second ahead of world record pace at halfway, but Thorpe chased the Dutchman down in the final 50 metres to take gold in an Olympic record 1min 44.71sec, with Phelps third.

An emotional Thorpe celebrated by tearing off his cap, punching the air wildly and screaming at the top of his lungs.

Thorpe also won three Olympic silvers and a bronze in his only two Games before retiring at the age of 24 in 2006, though an ill-fated comeback attempt saw him fail to make the cut for London 2012.

A hyperactive Phelps was encouraged into swimming aged seven to give his boundless energy an outlet.

By the time he had swum his last race in Rio five years ago the American had become the most decorated Olympian of all time with 23 gold medals, three silver and two bronze -- 13 of the golds in individual events, another record.

But the "Baltimore Bullet" came home empty-handed from his first Games at Sydney 2000, aged 15.

He struck gold six times in Athens four years later, but finished third in two other events, leaving Mark Spitz's 1972 Olympic record of seven swimming golds intact.

Motivated by Ian Thorpe's comment that beating Spitz's record was "impossible", which he kept pinned on his locker, Phelps stormed to an incredible eight golds at Beijing 2008.

"Never in my life have I been so happy to have been proved wrong," said Thorpe, after being poolside to witness Phelps's eighth Beijing win in the 4x100m medley relay.

At London 2012 Phelps expanded his collection to 18 golds, two silvers and two bronzes before retiring, saying: "I'm done. No more".

But in 2014 he came out of retirement and at 31 -- well beyond the usual peak age for swimmers -- extended his incredible run with five more golds and a silver in Rio.

The fastest man the world has ever seen, "Lightning Bolt" shot to worldwide fame in Beijing in 2008 as the first man to win both the 100m and 200m since American Carl Lewis in 1984.

He went on to become the only man to complete the sprint double twice when he repeated the feat in London -- and then swept all before him for a third time in Rio.

The charismatic Jamaican smashed both 100m and 200m world records in Beijing before lowering them to 9.58sec and 19.19sec respectively, times which are still to be beaten.

He anchored Jamaica's 4x100m sprint relay team to cross the line first in all three Games, though in 2017 the quartet were stripped of the 2008 gold because teammate Nesta Carter was found guilty of doping.

Bolt retired in 2017 with a record eight Olympic and 11 world championships sprint gold medals.