1992 Barcelona, Spain

The 1992 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event celebrated in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, in 1992.

TheInternational Olympic Committee voted in 1986 to separate the Summer and Winter Games, which had been held in the same year since 1924, and place them in alternating even-numbered years, beginning in 1994. The 1992 Summer Games were the last to be staged in the same year as the Winter Games. Due to the end of the Cold War, these games were the first without boycotts since 1972.

Barcelona, the birthplace of then-IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch, was selected over Amsterdam, Belgrade, Birmingham, Brisbane and Paris in Lausanne, Switzerland, on October 17, 1986, during the 91st IOC Session. It had bid for the 1936 Summer Olympics, losing out to Berlin.

Highlights of the Barcelona Olympics

ñThe Olympic flame cauldron was lit by the Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo, who shot an arrow lit by the last torch runner into it. Rebollo deliberately overshot the cauldron; though some sources claim it was done for the safety of the spectators, in fact Rebollo’s arrow did not light the natural gas rising from the cauldron. This was done by a Reyes Abades technician via remote control in all rehearsals and the ceremony itself, as Abades explained in an interview with his local newspaper ‘globalhenares.com’, “…he created the mechanism for lighting the Olympic flame”.

ñSouth Africa was allowed to compete in the Olympics for the first time since the 1960 Games, after a long suspension for its apartheid policy. White South African runner Elana Meyer and blackEthiopian runner Derartu Tulu fought a close race in the 10,000 m (won by Tulu) and then ran a victory lap hand in hand.

ñFollowing its reunification in 1990, Germany sent a single, unified Olympic team for the first time since the 1964 Games.

ñAs the Soviet Union had been dissolved in 1991, the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania sent their own teams for the first time since 1936. The other Soviet republics competed under the name “Unified Team”.

ñThe break-up of SFR Yugoslavia led to the Olympic debuts of Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to United Nations sanctions, FR Yugoslavian athletes were not allowed to participate with their own team. However, individual athletes could compete under the Olympic flag as Independent Olympic Participants.

ñIn men’s artistic gymnastics, Vitaly Scherbo from Belarus, representing the Unified Team, won six gold medals, including four on a single day. Five of the six golds were in individual events, tyingEric Heiden’s record for individual gold medals at a single Olympics (Michael Phelps would tie this record in 2008).

ñIn women’s artistic gymnastics, Tatiana Gutsu took gold in the All-Around competition edging the United States’ Shannon Miller.

ñIn the diving competitions, held in the view of the Sagrada Família, Fu Mingxia won the high dive event at the age of 13.

ñRussian swimmers dominated the freestyle events, with Alexander Popov and Yevgeny Sadovyi each winning two events (Sadovyi won a third in the relays).

ñEvelyn Ashford won her fourth Olympic gold medal in the 4×100 metre relay, making her one of only four female athletes to have achieved this in history.

ñThe young Krisztina Egerszegi of Hungary won three individual swimming gold medals.

ñIn women’s 200 metres breaststroke, Kyoko Iwasaki of Japan won a gold medal at age of 14 years and 6 days, became the youngest-ever gold medalist in swimming competitions at the Olympics.

ñAfter being demonstrated six times, baseball became an Olympic sport, with Cuba winning the gold medal, Chinese Taipei winning silver, and Japan, the bronze.

ñBadminton and women’s judo became part of the Olympic programme, while slalom canoeing returned to the Games after a 20-year absence.

ñRoller hockey became a demonstration sport in the 1992 Games. Argentina won the gold medal. Basque pelota and taekwondo were also demonstration sports.

ñSeveral of the U.S. men’s volleyball gold medal team from the 1988 Olympics returned to vie for another medal. In the first round, they lost a controversial match to Japan, sparking them to shave their heads in protest (including Steve Timmons, sacrificing his trademark red flattop for the protest).

ñMike Stulce of the USA won the men’s shot put, beating heavy favored Werner Günthör of Switzerland.

ñOn the 20th anniversary of the Munich massacre and the 500th anniversary of the Alhambra Decree, Yael Arad became the first Israeli to win an Olympic medal, winning a silver medal in judo. The next day, Oren Smadja became Israel’s first male medalist, winning a bronze in the same sport.

ñDerek Redmond of Great Britain tore a hamstring during a 400m semi-final heat. As he struggled to finish the race, his father entered the track without credentials and helped him complete the race, to a standing ovation from the crowd.

ñGail Devers won the 100 meter dash in one of the closest races in history. 5 women finished within 0.06 seconds of each other.

ñIn basketball, the admittance of professional players led to the formation of the “Dream Team” of the United States, featuring Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and other NBA stars. The Dream Team, which easily won the gold medal, would be inducted as a unit into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.

ñAfter making the semifinals of two grand slams at the age of 14, Jennifer Capriati won the single’s tennis competition at the age of 16.

169 nations sent athletes to compete in these Games. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, twelve states formed a Unified Team, while the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had their own teams. For the first time, Croatia, Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina competed as independent nations afterseparation from Socialist Yugoslavia. Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was banned due to UN sanctions, but individual Yugoslav athletes were allowed to take part as Independent Olympic Participants.

It was also the first Olympics since 1964 that a unified Germany competed at the Olympics. This was the Olympic debut for Namibia and the unified team of Yemen, after several separate participations of North and South Yemen. South Africa returned to the Games after 32 years. Four National Olympic Committees didn’t send their athletes to compete: Afghanistan, Brunei, Liberia and Somalia.