I was eight when Atlanta hosted the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. I am one of the few people I know to have not only gone to the Games at some point in my life but to have actually lived in a host city. Today, thinking back about some of my memories of the 1996 Olympics.
This Friday, the Olympic Games head to Rio. As someone trying to get pregnant and married to a physician, I have mixed thoughts about these games–on the one hand YAY OLYMPICS. On the other hand, the Zika epidemic that is sure to ensue is terrifying (and don’t even go there, you can carry it for up to 6 months after getting bitten).
In the effort to try to remain positive, I thought that I would share with you some of my memories of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games held in my hometown of Atlanta. These are memories that I will cherish for my entire life; I can’t believe that I was so lucky to be a part of such an incredible event. My mom has all of the pictures from the event, and if I had thought about it beforehand, I would have scanned, them, but alas, I was too busy eating and digesting our insane meals from this weekend!
The Olympic Torch
Soooooo my school was on the Olympic Torch route. Which means that one of the days just before the games, we got to stand outside on either side of the main central walk of campus and cheer on the torch as it made its way downtown. I don’t know who I saw run or if I really understood what was happening. I do remember what the entire school (we were K-12) on creating a tunnel through which the torch ran. It was a moment that made everything real.
The Centennial Olympic Tracksuits
Back in 1996, you know that tracksuits were all the rage, and you also can imagine that the various companies capitalized on the opportunity. A large number of teachers at my school were volunteers for the Games, so many of them got official Olympics tracksuits. #jealous
Izzy the Olympic Games Mascot
Izzy was the official mascot of the Centennial Olympic Games. He was, at the very least, memorable.
The Magnificent 7
Officially one of the coolest moments of my life? BEING THERE WHEN KERRY STRUG STUCK HER LANDING. I was there for the gymnastics finals and medal ceremony. I still can visualize her vault and sticking the landing, then pulling up her leg, and the medal ceremony with Bela Caroli carrying her. I will never forget that.
I was horse crazy, and Mom made sure to get tickets to see some of the equestrian events. We went to the second day of Dressage, but for this kid, the highlight was the Show Jumping Finals, when Jus de Pomme won. We also had great seats for this, and I would have been fine never leaving!
Michael Johnson, Flo Jo, and More
This was one of the great games for American sprinters (as least, in my mind!). Who will ever forget Flo Jo’s nails, or Michael’s golden track shoes?!
Atlanta, mid/late summer. Hot as …. Olympic rings. Misting tents were everything, and I thought they were so freaking cool (pun not intended?). Let’s just say that my brother and I frequented them.
Minute Maid Frozen Lemonade
The frozen lemonade cups debuted that summer, and omg, I don’t want to think of how many of those things that we had. Strawberry lemonade came out later that summer, but we were obsessed with the original. OBSESSED.
Team Cheerios remains amongst my top favorite cereals of all time. Frosted, brown sugar, and honey nut in a mix. They were so popular that they brought them back again, only to finally discontinue them and crush my hopes and dreams.
Centennial Olympic Park
As the city worked to get its ish together in time for the games, it also worked to clean up some of the more downtrodden areas. One of those areas became Centennial Olympic Park, a top tourist destination even today. The creation of this park transformed that area of the city, and we still have never found the brick that was engraved with my family’s name!
Centenneal Olympic Park Bombings
I would be remiss to pretend that it was all sunshine and rainbows at the Games. The Centennial Olympic Games started with a very real tragedy: the terror bombings that shattered the good mood of the Games’ kickoff and have since colored the security measures of all Games since.
There are so many other memories that I have: the t-shirts, the collector’s pins, welcoming the Canadian gymnastics team (and seeing Celine Dion) to the local school that I went to summer camp at…. but I will leave it there for now.
This (Rio) is going to be an interesting Olympic Games. I wish them the best of luck as host city!I loved reading about @suzlyfe's memories of living in an #Olympics host city! #sweatpink Click To Tweet
Have you ever gone to the Olympics? Which events?
Any particular memories of the Olympics that stick out to you (whether seen in person or on TV)?