Cities with the Olympic Effect

During the summer of 2012, the eyes of the world focused on London as the Olympic Games came to town. The sporting festival is perhaps the biggest and greatest show on earth, and the appearance of many of the planet’s finest athletes, cyclists, rowers, boxers et al ensures high excitement and huge TV viewing figures.

London is hosting the Games for the third time, the first place to do so, and there can be no doubt that becoming an Olympic city raises the profile of any location. Here are a few other cities which have welcomed the famous flame, and have carved their places in the unique history of the five interconnected rings.

Sydney (2000)

The Sydney Games were a huge success, and provided many iconic moments for fans throughout the world. The specially-built stadium, which nowadays hosts a number of sporting events every year, saw Australia’s golden girl Cathy Freeman romp to an emotional victory in the women’s 400 metres and the imperious Michael Johnson of the USA take gold over the same distance in the men’s event.

Montreal (1976)

Many people would consider the period between 1972 and 1984 as something of a nadir for the Olympic Games, with multiple boycotts and overspending dominating the headlines. The Montreal Games were hugely expensive, and reportedly left the city with enormous debts. There were some wonderful moments, however, none more so than the incredible performances of Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who picked up three gold medals and wowed the world.

Los Angeles (1984)

Los Angeles had hosted the 1932 Games, and many observers were intrigued to see how the movie capital of the world would handle the Olympics in the modern era. Despite a boycott from various Soviet Bloc countries such as the USSR, Hungary, East Germany and Czechoslovakia, the event was a big success. There was a discernible wow factor throughout, and the performances of athletics superstars such as Carl Lewis of the USA and Daley Thompson of Great Britain were enough to win the crowds over.

Seoul (1988)

The capital of South Korea put on an extravagant show in 1988, and the enthusiasm of the locals ensured the Games was a truly memorable event. It’s unfortunate that the disqualification of 100 metres winner Ben Johnson provided the major headlines, because there were many other golden moments. The likes of Mark Todd (equestrian), Matt Biondi (swimming) and Vladimir Artemov (gymnastics) thrilled the spectators, but it’s perhaps the selfless sacrifice of Canadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux who best exemplified the true spirit of the Olympics. Closing in on a silver medal, he gave up his race in order to save an injured fellow competitor.

David Showell is a sports fan from the UK. He works for a Chester car rental firm.

David Showell is a sports fan from the UK. He works for a Chester car rental firm.

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