The 5 Most Face-Meltingly Awesome Olympic Moments

1. America’s 1980 Defeat Over The Soviets In Ice Hockey

Little is known about this event, as it is rarely spoken of and almost never acknowledged in sports circles. But what we do know is this: The rag-tag bunch of ruffians from all various hill-villages throughout the United States, collegiate icemen who had never seen a real puck, were gathered together to defeat the team that drove terror into the hearts of all men who crossed them. The Soviets had never been beaten, and I can only assume ate their opponents after their victory, given the level of fear and uncertainty that followed our team into the game. But like some Disney movie come to life to inspire every man, woman, and child in America — we beat the Commies. We took them down with our speed, our strength, and above all — our freedom. Ayn Rand looked on fondly as the mighty hockey stick of capitalism bore down on the Soviet players, crushing their fur hat hopes and beet soup dreams as they cried tears of pure vodka. It was there that Ronald Reagan was born.

2. Kerri Strug’s Vault Landing

The year is 1996. The city is Atlanta. As it has always been throughout the great History of Man, there was a palpable undertone of “we have to beat the Russians.” The gold medal for women’s gymnastics was up for grabs and — as fate would have it — I was a little gymnast myself. Little me, in my leotard, who could barely do a somersault on a balance beam, watching as this tiny, tiny woman sucked up all her chutzpa and charm for one last go on the vault. She was part of a group called “The Magnificent Seven” which, judging by the tone, seems like it would indicate a really, really good team of players. But those Russians are tricky, and that absolute limp noodle Dominique Moceanu had already made things difficult for everyone else. It was up to Kerri, and as she had just blown out her ankle falling on another vault landing, the stakes were high. She might permanently lose her ability to walk going back for the second vault, but she had to. And as the world held its breath, she stuck her landing (for about .000000003 seconds, before changing feet and saluting), and we won the gold. Kerri won the gold for America, leading to a fulfilling, lifelong career of being on Wheaties Boxes, the highest honor bestowed to our beloved athletes.

3. Michael Phelps’ 67,000 Gold Medals

While scientists and mathematicians continue the academic debate about how many medals he won exactly at those games, one thing is for certain — Michael Phelps can swim the sh-t out of a pool lane. We all knew that he was fabulous. The whole state of Maryland was in a fevered uproar at the idea that one of our own was making it to become such an international sports superstar. (Suddenly, everyone’s cousins’ brother’s ex-girlfriend used to swim at his pool in Baltimore.) And so he went on to crush mercilessly at every event — especially when that ass hat of a Serb tried to say it would be “good” for him to lose. It is not “good” for Americans to lose anything — it is our highest dishonor, and every time it happens, a bald eagle bursts into flames. (That pitiful sore loser Serbian insisted on getting a second opinion out to analyze his loss, but the Eagle doesn’t lie, Serb. We win, and we win true.) So Phelps shone like a bright star, and he won all his thousands of gold medals, all while apparently listening to Lil’ Wayne’s latest album for motivation (what?). He then went on to be disgraced for smoking weed that one time with some friends, and we all rejected him as a society, because we have our priorities in order — and he simply lived long enough to see himself become the villain.

4. Usain Bolt’s Record-Breaking Antics

There are many significant things about Mr. Bolt, from his hilariously apt name, to his many world and Olympic records, to the fact that the man slowed down to celebrate before even clearing the finish line in one of his races, only to still make his record and beat the others by what, in short-race terms, would be a landslide. The man is just simply made of victory, and sweats pure Gatorade. And what is perhaps most stunning — and life affirming, in this cold, cruel world — about his successes and achievements is that he did it without some strange spike in performance after a relatively mediocre career. There were no signs of any kind of help or foul play that usually plague such incredible record-breakers. Could it be that we’ve actually found a human blessed by the Gods and not some gluteus-injected pharmaceutical to take our sports achievements to soaring new heights? We can only thank him, and continue to watch on in awe as we wait for yet another athlete to come out crying about how “juicing” has taken over their life. Spare us your tears, sport-man, we have no need for them.

5. Nadia Comaneci’s Complete Ownership of the Sport of Gymnastics

Apparently the sport itself existed long before Ms. Comaneci, but let’s just say that it didn’t have any style. Perhaps it was she who started the whole “gruff Eastern Europeans being associated with excellence on the balance beam” thing, but who can say for sure? What’s certain is that she not only scored the first perfect 10 to be given to a female in an Olympic gymnastics event, but also garnered two gold medals and gave a performance that literally makes you weep to look at. She is so much of the reason that little girls everywhere dress up in a leotard and flop around the back yard like a dying fish with a baton in their hands (not realizing that it’s actually rhythmic gymnastics — the crazy person sport — that uses the baton). Go back and give her a watch, you’ll feel like the sedentary loser you are, just as the Olympics were meant to do. TC mark

image – Olympic.org

Thought Catalog

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Trace the scars life has left you. It will remind you that at one point, you fought for something. You believed.

“You are the only person who gets to decide if you are happy or not—do not put your happiness into the hands of other people. Do not make it contingent on their acceptance of you or their feelings for you. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if someone dislikes you or if someone doesn’t want to be with you. All that matters is that you are happy with the person you are becoming. All that matters is that you like yourself, that you are proud of what you are putting out into the world. You are in charge of your joy, of your worth. You get to be your own validation. Please don’t ever forget that.” — Bianca Sparacino

Excerpted from The Strength In Our Scars by Bianca Sparacino.

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  • http://twitter.com/spoustaj Josef (@spoustaj)

    BRB going to YouTube to watch Kerri Strug’s vault landing and crying.

  • Nate

    Crosby’s overtime goal, 2010. Canada goes bananas coast-to-coast.

  • Ring

    Awesome post chelsea

  • Jay

    No Billy Mills?

  • http://seaofbones.tumblr.com Kendall F

    I laughed so hard and enjoyed this read so much.
    Chelsea, your articles are always my absolute favorite. Thank you for writing this!

  • Onodi

    Not many people know that Strug’s second vault wasn’t actually needed for the US to clinch the gold but it was pretty amazing nonetheless.

  • GabbyTime

    UGH! You didn’t include U.S. gold medalist Jessie Owens embarrassing the shit out of Hitler in Berlin 1936. Or what about the Black power salute/Human rights solidarity protest that Tommie Smith, John Carlos, and Peter Norman (Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalists) did at the 1968 Mexico City games? THOSE were super important moments! But I guess they were more political than anything else – even though it was their superior athletic ability that positioned them to be able to embarrass folks who needed some embarrassing on a literal world stage. Just my two cents. Good article otherwise

  • Nikki

    Jason Lezak’s leg of the 400 free relay to come from WAY behind and out touch the French guy with the fastest 100 meter freestyle in the history of ever while helping Phelps to accomplish his quest for thousands of gold medals was pretty cool. Probably deserves a mention in the paragraph dedicated to Michael. (:

  • Cybelle

    Jason Lezak’s final anchor on the 2008 freestyle relay should be on here. Just saying.

    • http://dateprofessional.20m.com/ Ninelle

      Agree, it was awesome

  • Alex

    how could you not include the dream team? come on.

  • kirby

    well they did make a movie about the 1980 gold medal winning ice hockey team… which is amazing and will make you cry if you have any semblance of a soul.

  • Tk

    wow. how old is the author of this article? 12?

  • JamesDEJ

    Canadian Joannie Rochette winning bronze in figure skating in Vancouver in 2010 just a few days after her mother died of a heart attack.

    http://www.cbc.ca/olympics/figureskating/story/2010/02/25/spo-fs-womens-free.html

  • Rehclif

    No Tommie Smith and John Carlos?!?!?

  • Salsal

    This is all very America-centric. What about the REST OF THE FREAKING WORLD?? We’re good at sports too!

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