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9 of the Most Memorable Olympic Moments Ever

In honor of the 2018 Winter Olympics kicking off on Thursday, February 8, in PyeongChang, South Korea, Us Weekly has put together some of the most memorable moments that have happened throughout the history of the Olympic Games.

Related: Meet Team USA: These Athletes Are Representing the United States at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang

Jesse Owens Defeating the Odds

At the 1936 Berlin Games, Jesse Owens won four gold medals for track and field. He managed to break or equal nine Olympic records and also set three world records that would last for 20 years. Owens’ achievements defied Adolf Hitler’s theory that he hoped to prove during the 1936 Olympics that Aryan people were the dominant race. Owens, an African-American, became the most successful athlete of that year’s games.

The Most Decorated Olympian of All Time

American swimmer Michael Phelps became the most decorated athlete in Olympic history. Phelps was just 15 years old when he made his Olympic debut at the 2000 Games in Sydney and finished his career with 23 gold medals and 28 overall.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men's 200m final at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 20, 2008.
Jamaica’s Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 200m final at the National stadium as part of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games on August 20, 2008. Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty Images

Usain Bolt Becomes the Fastest Man Alive

Jamaican runner and Olympic legend Usain Bolt has been called “the fastest man alive” for surpassing many world records. Bolt won eight gold medals as a reigning champion at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Games. He is now known as the greatest sprinter of all time.

Tommie Smith and John Carlos Black Power Salute

American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos conducted a political demonstration at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Both athletes raised one fist while wearing a black glove, with their heads bowed while the American national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played. The protest, which took place while the civil rights movement was happening in the United States, caused major controversy for both athletes.

Related: Meet Team USA’s Hottest Hunks

The Spice Girls Reunion

The London Olympics’ Closing Ceremony took place in England in August 2012, and it gave the world an onstage Spice Girls reunion. Geri Halliwell, Melanie Brown, Victoria Beckham, Emma Bunton and Melanie Chisholm paid tribute to their homeland during their highly anticipated performance and fans tuned in all over the world to watch the singers’ comeback.

Apolo Anton Ohno Owns the Snow

American speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympic Athlete of all time. After competing in just three Olympic Games, he won a total of eight medals.

Vonetta Flowers Makes History

American bobsledder Vonetta Flowers became the first black woman to win a gold medal at any Winter Olympics, and it happened as recently as 2002.

Related: Olympic Athletes: Where Are They Now?

The Tonya Harding Scandal

Olympians Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan were preparing for their second games together when Kerrigan was suddenly attacked. Kerrigan was hit in the knee before the 1994 Winter Olympics in Norway after Harding’s ex-husband and bodyguard hired a man to hit his then-wife’s main competitor.

The World’s Greatest Athlete

Caitlyn Jenner (née Bruce Jenner) brought gold back to the United States in 1976 with a world-record score of 8,616 during 1976’s Montreal Olympics. Jenner won the Olympic gold medal in the decathlon, becoming the unofficial “world’s greatest athlete.” The former Olympic champion then landed an iconic partnership with Wheaties, which placed a photograph of the athlete’s glorious win on the front of its cereal boxes.

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