1972: Olga Korbut's Back Flip on Uneven Bars
Just 17, Korbut was not considered one of the top gymnasts on the USSR team in 1972. With one move (a standing back flip to catch on the uneven bars), she stole the show.
Though she earned only a silver medal for her bar routine in the event finals, she took home golds on both beam and floor. The crowd adored her pixie-like appearance and daredevil acrobatics.
She became a household name and helped to make gymnastics popular in the mainstream media. Interestingly, the move that made Olga Korbut so famous is no longer a recognized move on the uneven bars.
1976: Nadia Comaneci Scores a Perfect 10.0
Her first – the first 10.0 ever awarded in the Olympics – came in the compulsory competition. The scoreboard, unable to accommodate a ten, flashed a 1.0, and the amazed crowd jumped to its feet in a standing ovation for its new star. Comaneci went on to win the women's all-around, uneven bars, and floor exercise.
1976: Shun Fujimoto Hits His Ring Set with a Broken KneeThe Japanese built a dynasty in men's gymnastics in the 1960s and 70s. By 1976, Japan had won the team gold in the last four Olympics. In the team finals in Montreal, however, Japanese team member Shun Fujimoto injured himself on floor. Fearing that the team would not win if he withdrew from the meet, Fujimoto hid the extent of his injury and competed his final two events of the day, pommel horse and rings.
On rings, Fujimoto scored a 9.7, after landing his full-twisting double back dismount onto a broken kneecap. His score helped the Japanese earn their fifth consecutive team gold, and he is still revered in Japan for his selfless commitment to the team.
1984: Mary Lou Retton Wins the Olympic All-Around Title
Retton stuck her vault – an ultra-difficult full-twisting layout Tsukahara – and earned a perfect mark. She became a media sensation overnight and was the first woman ever to be featured on a Wheaties box.
1984: US Men's Team Win Gold
The US squad shocked everyone by taking the lead after the compulsory round of competition. With stars such as Bart Conner, Peter Vidmar, Mitch Gaylord, and Tim Daggett, the US men had the meet of their lives in optionals to win gold. They capped off their day with near-perfect high bar routines, including clutch performances from Tim Daggett (10.0) and Peter Vidmar (9.95).
1988: Marina Lobatch Earns a Perfect Score in the Rhythmic All-AroundMarina Lobatch never won a world or European Championship title, but she put it all together at the 1988 Olympics. With scores of 10.0 on every apparatus, she won the all-around with a 60.000 in an incredibly-close competition: Bulgaria's Adriana Dunavska earned silver with a 59.950, while Lobatch's Soviet teammate Alexandra Timoshenko took bronze with a 59.875.
1992: Vitaly Scherbo Dominates the Men's Competition
Despite a deep field of talented men, Scherbo's picture-perfect technique and uncanny ability to stick landings set him apart. Only swimmers Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps have ever won more golds in a single Olympics.
1996: Kerri Strug Sticks Her Vault on an Injured Ankle
With just a slim lead over the Russian team, it was essential that Kerri Strug, the final American gymnast to perform, nail her vault. But Strug fell too, injuring her ankle in the process. With just one more shot, Strug ignored her injury and ran down for another attempt, sticking her vault before crumpling to the floor in pain.
In doing so, she assured the Americans their first Olympic team gold, and instantly became one of the most recognizable faces of the 1996 Games.
2004: Paul Hamm Comes from Behind to Win Gold
A win seemed impossible, until Hamm hit two incredible sets in a row on parallel bars and high bar. On each routine he earned a 9.837, the highest score of the event. On the strength of those two marks, Hamm managed to slip into the gold-medal spot by the slimmest margin possible (.012), and became the first American man to win the Olympic all-around title.
Shortly after the competition, the score of bronze medalist Yang Tae-Young's parallel bars routine was protested, resulting in one of the greatest controversies in gymnastics.
Poll: Which Olympic moment is your favorite?
- Olga Korbut's back flip on bars
- Nadia Comaneci's perfect 10.0s
- Shun Fujimoto's ring set on a broken knee
- Mary Lou Retton's stuck vault
- The 1984 US men win gold
- Marina Lobatch's perfect all-around competition
- Vitaly Scherbo's domination of the 1992 Olympics
- Kerri Strug's vault on an injured ankle
- Paul Hamm's come-from-behind win