Watch: Summer Olympics: Top 7 Viral Moments From Past Games
It's never dull at the Olympics.
After all, it's an event built on athleticism so great, it takes your breath away practically every time. Still, as evidenced by more than 100 years of modern Olympic history, there are moments that still manage to stand out from the rest—in more ways than one. Whether they set the bar higher than we even thought possible, make a statement louder than the sport itself, spark controversy or exemplify humanity in an unexpected way, the Olympic Games have been the stage for some truly remarkable events.
Now, with the long-awaited 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo finally officially kicking off on Friday, July 23, it's only a matter of hours before more athletes get the chance to not only take home the gold, but perhaps leave their infinite mark on sports history.
As we keep our eyes peeled, rest assured they'll be in incredible company. We've rounded up many of the moments in Olympics history that remain unforgettable to this day. Some will amaze you, shock you, might make you cry and, perhaps, push you to take that next step toward your own dreams.
Without further ado:
Photo12/UIG/Getty ImagesJesse Owens, 1936
One of the most legendary athletes of all time, Alabama native Jesse Owens' performance at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin won him four gold medals, broke world records and simultaneously defied the racist Nazi agenda promoted by Adolf Hitler.
Central Press/Getty ImagesAbebe Bikila, 1960
The next time you're not in the mood to exercise, think of Abebe Bikila. The Ethiopian marathon runner became the first Black African to win a gold medal when he won the men's marathon at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. We should mention he did it barefoot. Four years later, he competed and won again, marking the first time anyone had won the marathon twice. While he wore shoes the second time around, he also underwent an appendectomy just over a month before running the race…and still set a world record.
Express Newspapers/Getty ImagesPeggy Fleming, 1968
While she won the only gold medal for the United States at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France, Peggy Fleming simultaneously skated into the hearts of Americans watching from home (for the first time live and in color, mind you) and has since been credited with changing figure skating.