Who can forget Spitz feat? He inspired my Olympic dream
From seven golds in the pool to Ali lighting the flame: Sharron Davies recalls her top 10 Olympic moments
Tuesday 15 February 2011
1. Spitz wins his seven golds: Munich 1972
In every sport people have a life-changing, eureka moment. Mine was watching Mark Spitz win seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics in Munich when I was 11. It was all over the newspaper and it's stuck in my brain. There were huge news stories going on about the shootings but I don't remember those, I just remember him collecting all of his medals. It was very inspiring – a career defining moment for me.
2. Phelps equals Spitz's feat: Beijing 2008
Years later I was at the side of the pool, in 2008 at the Beijing Olympics, when Michael Phelps came out of the water after winning the 100m fly by 0.01sec. He's so in demand and obviously goes to American TV first but I'd put in to speak to him and he was talking to me when he realised he'd got it, he was so animated and practically bouncing off the wall.
3. Watching my friends Christie and Gunnell hit gold: Barcelona 1992
The Barcelona Olympics in 1992 were particularly special to me as they were the last time I competed at a Games, at the age of 30. I'd been competing in them since I was 13 but now I was grown up and could appreciate how special it was to be there. I got to watch Linford Christie win the 100m gold and Sally Gunnell win the 400m hurdles gold on the track – watching your friends do that is special.
4. Korbut captivates: Munich '72; Comaneci is perfect: Montreal '76
In the 1972 Munich Games 17-year-old Olga Korbut captured the hearts of the world. She was an impish little Russian on the uneven bars and wiped tears from her eyes after a disappointing display in that event. She made everyone realise the Russians weren't all robots. Four years later, Nadia Comaneci from Romania, at 14, got perfect 10s in the same event, something that had never happened before.
5. 'Eric the Eel' epitomises the Olympic spirit: Sydney 2000
Eric Moussambani – or "Eric The Eel" – is one of those people that epitomises the Olympics. He trained in a river to represent Guinea in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. I was standing at the side of the pool thinking, "I'm going to have to dive in and save him." While everyone wants to see top athletes competing, the Olympics are about encompassing the world and are an important lesson for everyone.
6. Redgrave becomes Britain's greatest Olympian: Sydney 2000
I was on an exercise bike in my hotel room in Australia watching on TV when Steve Redgrave won his fifth rowing gold medal – his fifth successive Games with a gold medal – in the coxless four. It was one of those moments everyone in Britain knows where they were when it happened.
7. Redmond's dad helps him over the line: Barcelona 1992
No one can forget when Derek Redmond was helped over the finish line by his father after pulling a hamstring in the 400m semi-final in the 1992 Olympics. He'd been plagued with injury all his life and then this happens. I watched it afterwards and ended up marrying Derek.
8. Louganis cracks his head on the board: Seoul 1988
It was a chilling moment when Greg Louganis split his head open on the diving board in the 1988 Seoul Games. There was massive controversy afterwards when he revealed he was HIV positive and had lied to the doctors about it.
9. Tears of joy at watching Chariots of Fire: Moscow 1980
A group of us who had won medals at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow were invited to a big awards ceremony and decided to see the film Chariots of Fire, about two inspiring athletes in the 1924 Paris Games, beforehand. There were 30 of us and we sat there with tears rolling down our faces.
10. Stricken Ali lights the flame at opening ceremony: Atlanta '96
You could hear a pin drop the moment Muhammad Ali, with his hand shaking due to Parkinson's, lit the flame at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
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