Atlanta, 1996 Olympic Games
The 1996 Olympic Games were held in Atlanta, USA. 179 nations participated, with 79 winning medals. Beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women's football made their first appearance at these Games. The United States returned to the top of the standings, followed by Russia and Germany. See the 1996 medal table.
- Muhammad Ali lit the cauldron at the start of the Centennial Games.
- The mascot was an amorphous abstract fantasy figure called "Izzy", (derived from "Whatizit?" because no one seemed to know exactly what "Izzy" really was).
- Beach Volleyball was a new addition to the Olympic Games in 1996. This sport began as a fun activity at Santa Monica, California in the 1920s, and developed into a competitive sport in the 1950s and 60s before really taking off in the late 1970s after becoming professional.
- On July 27 a pipe bomb exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing one and wounding another 111 people, but the Games went on.
- America's Michael Johnson won both the 200m and 400m races; France's Marie-José Perec did the same.
- Carl Lewis won his ninth gold medal by winning the long jump.
- Amy Van Dyken of the U.S. won four gold medals in swimming, while Ireland's Michelle Smith won three golds and a bronze. Smith was accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; this remains unproven, but she was suspended in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.
- The American women's teams won the first-ever softball and women's soccer events. They also won gold in gymnastics with the help of Kerri Strug, who nailed her second vault despite a sprained ankle.
- Austrian sailor Hubert Raudaschl became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympics. Before he began his streak in 1964, he was a reserve in 1960.