Twenty-one years ago the eyes of the world focused on Atlanta, GA for the start of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games.
The stage was set and after almost ten years of planning, Atlanta welcomed the world.
I lived in Atlanta during the build-up and celebration of the Centennial Olympiad. It was a heady time filled with the most incredible displays of athletic prowess I have ever seen.
Those days and years leading up to the Games also showcased a spirit of community that all of us who lived in Atlanta, and worked on the Games, could be proud of.
Unfortunately, the actions of a mad man tarnished the magnificence of Atlanta 1996, but his actions cannot and should not be what we remember when we think of that magical summer.
I will always remember those days for the joy we felt as years of planning came to fruition. I will remember the friends I made from around the world, and I will remember the unity of the athletes proving that we as a world can co-exist, even if only for a couple of weeks.
Atlanta 1996 was a resounding success and 21 years later, the differences the Games made on the City are still evident.
Atlanta’s Olympic flame shone bright and still does today.
On this date in 1976, Nadia Comaneci became the first person in Olympic history to score a perfect 10 in competition.
Scoreboards during the Games weren’t prepared for such a feat, when her score popped up as 1.00, the audience was outraged, until they were told the decimal point was static and couldn’t be moved.
For the entire competition, each of Nadia’s perfect scores was reflected as a 1.00, instead of 10.0.
That summer the world embraced Nadia, a product of the Romanian sports development system.
At just 14 years old, Nadia became a household name and scored a total of seven perfect scores in the Montreal Olympics.
After the Games of 76, she competed in the 80 Moscow Games and capped her career with nine Olympic medals.
In 1989, Nadia defected from Romania and ended up in the United States where she married American gymnast Bart Conner.
Now an American citizen and gymnastics coach, Nadia Comaneci is 55 years old.
Daddy wasn’t much of a movie goer, he would wait until they came on TBS to catch up. Usually years after the movie was released. (This was long before DVD or live-streaming….. I know, imagine the horrors!)
In 1976 when Rocky was released daddy wanted to see it, so with Sam away at college, mama and I took daddy to the movie theater.
He loved the movie and I watched it again with him on TV a few years before he died. Daddy was a boxer when he was young and on the rare occasion that he would tell us stories about those days they were always entertaining.
The last time daddy was in the hospital, our immediate family and some of our extended family were all gathered in his hospital room….. he told us stories that day, about his childhood, teen years and boxing. I will cherish those stories forever.
Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Philadelphia for my work. In addition to the Liberty Bell and historic monuments, the “Rocky steps” at the Philadelphia Art Museum were on my list of must visit.
I didn’t attempt to run the steps, but I walked them and thought about my daddy each step of the climb. I miss my daddy every day, but cherish the wonderful memories he left me.
In life, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all have a moment like this?