In this 1996 release by Turner Home Entertainment you will see a variety of Olympic history divided into unique sets of historical segments. You will learn about Olympic traditions such as the Olympic flag, athlete oath, Olympic motto, torch relay, hymn, Olympic flame, and opening and closing ceremonies. Stories are shared of how Ron Clarke was selected at age 19 to light the official flame in the 1956 games and how Sir Roger Bannister had to break a car window to get his nation’s flag to the opening ceremony on time. Although Edwin Moses appears on the cover he is not shown in this production. Athletes are presented on topics from nationalistic pride, record setting, to those who had the courage to endure hardships. Award winning writer, producer and director Bud Greenspan uses narrator Will Lyman to direct this three hour presentation that is on two VHS tapes. You can own your own copy by purchasing this collection at Amazon.com.
Although many sports such as gymnastics, swimming, diving, and boxing are touched on throughout, it is the track and field athletes, and especially the runners, who play the lead in this production. Here is more information on some of the featured runners:
Paavo Nurmi and Lasse Viren, the "Flying Finns". In a thirteen minute segment these two runners are compared and contrasted as outstanding distance runners. Nurmi won nine gold and three silver medals over three Olympiads and it was 36 years before his countryman, Viren, brought back gold medals to Finland. He captured 4 gold medals in two Olympic games as he repeated his 5,000 and 10,000 meter victories from 1972 again in 1976. See interviews and watch portions of the record setting races.
Fanny Blankers-Koen, from Holland. It takes six minutes to summarize the four gold medals won by Blankers-Koen in the 1948 London Olympics. See competed in the 100 meters, 80 meter hurdles, 200 meters, and was the anchor on the 4x100 meter relay team. Her husband (he was also her coach) had to convince her to compete after her second gold medal performance. Many do not recall that she also competed in the 1936 games, earning fifth place in both the high jump and short relay event.
Alain Mimoun and Emil Zátopek. Fourteen minutes are used in this segment with extensive interviews by Mimoun as he summarizes the competitions from 1948 in London to 1956 in Melbourne. As Zátopek wins repeated gold medals in the distance events, Mimoun is not disappointed with second place awards. Mimoun states: "I was not very angry because I believe in fate." He had to request to run the marathon in 1956 after placing 11th in the 10,000 meters. Then at age 35 in 104 degree heat he ran his first marathon and won the event! Zátopek finished sixth and when greeted by Mimoun at the finish Zátopek said "I am glad for you my friend".
Kip Keino. Here you will see how Kip Keino, the first Kenyan to break four minutes in the mile and first world record holder from this country, inspired other athletes to excel from this African country. From the 1500 meter victory in the thin air of Mexico City in 1968 to his 3000 meter steeplechase win in 1972, to his current role teaching the 70 children in his orphanage in Kenya you will see that this athlete believes it when he says "let us leave a mark that people will remember." This segment runs for seven minutes.
Valery Borzov, representing the Soviet Union. His accomplishments of 1972 are highlighted in this seven minute segment including his victories in the 100 and 200 meter sprints. He entered the games at age 23 and he had been undefeated for two years prior to the Munich Games. Borzov was the only athlete to win all his heats leading into the 100 meter final and less than twelve hours after that event the games were interrupted by terrorism.
Carl Lewis. Eight minutes are used to show Lewis from 1984 to 1992 winning eight gold medals and one silver. He was the first man to win the 100 meters twice and long jump three times. He states during one of his interviews: "You can try anything you can. If you don’t succeed you haven’t failed because you can’t fail in anything you try your hardest."
Abebe Bikila, Mamo Wolde and John Stephen Akhwari. From 1960 to 1968 athletes from Ethiopia won the men’s marathon event. On Bikila’s last attempt he had a broken bone in his foot and countryman Mamo Wolde proved victorious. John Stephen Akhwari, from Tanzania, completed the race last (3:25:17) with a bandaged right leg from a bad fall and stated afterward "My country did not send my 5000 miles to start the race. They sent me 5000 miles to finish the race." Fittingly, this is the last athlete segment before this tape ends with closing ceremony images since it was first held in a "one nation" style since 1956.