Atlanta 1996: Canada’s great Summer Games

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On Thursday, the United States Olympic Committee chose Boston as the American city that will bid for the 2024 Olympic Games./p>

Last time a U.S. city hosted, Canada enjoyed its “most successful non-boycotted” Summer Games says Olympic.ca researcher Paula Nichols.

Here are some of the top Team Canada moments from Atlanta 1996:

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Donovan Bailey crosses the finish line at Atlanta in world record time, immediately turning staff at NBC into amateur sports scientists.

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Donovan Bailey crosses the finish line at Atlanta in world record time, immediately turning staff at NBC into amateur sports scientists.

Donovan Bailey broke the 100m world record, becoming the world’s fastest man, although over at U.S. Olympic broadcaster-for-life, NBC, they were touting American Michael Johnson for the unofficial title out of petty bitterness.

Blast off

(L-R) Esmie, Surin, Bailey and Gilbert brought Canada double sprinting gold in Atlanta.

(L-R) Esmie, Surin, Bailey and Gilbert brought Canada double sprinting gold in Atlanta.

American frowns wouldn’t be turned upside down when Bailey, anchoring the men’s relay with Bruny Surin, Glenroy Gilbert and leadoff sprinter Robert Esmie (who appropriately had “blast off” shaved on his head), took the 4x100m gold.

First to three

In Atlanta, McBean & Heddle rowed to their third gold medal in two Summer Games.

In Atlanta, McBean & Heddle rowed to their third gold medal in two Summer Games.

Rowers Marnie McBean and Kathleen Heddle won their third Olympic gold medal, becoming the first Canadians to ever hit that mark. They also won a bronze in Atlanta.

Introducing greatness

The road to Olympic greatness for Clara Hughes began in Atlanta.

The road to Olympic greatness for Clara Hughes began in Atlanta.

Then a 23-year old cyclist, Clara Hughes, won the first two of her (tied) Canadian-record six Olympic medals, later becoming the only athlete to win multiple medals in both Summer and Winter Games.

Beach boys

One half of Child & Heese, John Child surveys the sand in Atlanta.

One half of Child & Heese, John Child surveys the sand in Atlanta.

John Child and Mark Heese brought home a beach volleyball bronze medal in the Olympic debut of the traditional indoor sport.

Heavy handed

David Defiagbon in the heavyweight golden bout at Atlanta, before bringing home Canada's last Olympic boxing medal.

David Defiagbon in the heavyweight golden bout at Atlanta, before bringing home Canada’s last Olympic boxing medal.

David Defiagbon got through three heavyweights before being defeated in the gold medal bout by the great Cuban pugilist Felix Savon. Defiagbon’s silver stands as the last Olympic boxing medal for Canada.

Mr. Medley

Myden made the most of the waters in Atlanta with a pair of individual bronze medals.

Myden made the most of the waters in Atlanta with a pair of individual bronze medals.

Curtis Myden’s double individual medley bronzes in Atlanta was the last time a Canadian swimmer won multiple Olympic swimming medals at a single Games.

Other highlights – of many – include Olympic debuts with a silver lining for Canada in mountain bike (Alison Sydor) and team synchronized swimming (Sylvie Fréchette & co.); the great Silken Laumann took single sculls silver four years after the dramatic post-broken leg bronze in Barcelona; and Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games Chef de Mission, Curt Harnett, sprinted to a cycling bronze for his third and final Olympic medal.

All told, Canada won 22 medals (three gold, 11 silver, eight bronze) and finished 11th in the total medals table. For future Olympians Boston – if selected as the 2024 host by the International Olympic Committee – represents a great opportunity to compete in front of friends and family nearby, relatively speaking. To do that, the next Bailey, Hughes, McBean or Myden should get started… right about now.

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