Nov 12, 2013, 2:33 PM EDT
All that will be left are memories once Turner Field is demolished.
Of course, Turner Field was originally known as Centennial Olympic Stadium. It was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Centennial Games 100 years after the first modern Olympics were staged.
Here are 10 highlights from 17 years ago, in no particular order:
1. Muhammad Ali lights Olympic cauldron
The night of July 19 provided the lasting image of the Games. Ali, 54 and slowed by Parkinson’s, was the final leg of the torch relay, receiving a handoff from swimmer Janet Evans and lighting the Olympic cauldron.
Later in the Games, Ali would receive a replacement for the 1960 Olympic gold medal he lost.
2. Michael Johnson breaks world record in 200m
The man with the golden shoes doubled up in the 200m and 400m. He broke the Olympic record to win the 400m in 43.49 seconds, but his 200m gold three days later was more impressive.
Johnson, in his trademark upright running style, took a whopping .34 of a second off his previous record set less than two months before the Games. He ran fast enough to be ticketed for speeding in a school zone.
3. Gail Devers dedicates 100m win to bombing victims
Devers, known for her long fingernails, edged Merlene Ottey and Georgia native Gwen Torrance in a photo finish to defend her Olympic title. Devers and Ottey both ran 10.94, while Torrance took bronze in 10.96.
Devers said after that the victims of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing from earlier that day were in her thoughts.
4. Donovan Bailey breaks world record in 100m
The Canadian followed up his world championship with an Olympic title, winning in 9.84 seconds to break Leroy Burrell‘s world record of 9.85 from 1994.
Bailey’s look of astonishment as he crossed the finish line was an indelible memory from the track and field competition at those Games. As was 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie‘s false-start disqualification.
5. Marie-Jose Perec pulls off 200m-400m double
The French gazelle got far less press than Johnson did for his 200m-400m double. She defended her title in the 200m and then won the 400m in an Olympic record time.
Australian Cathy Freeman took silver in the 400m, four years before she became the star of the 2000 Olympics.
6. Dan O’Brien wins decathlon
O’Brien was a redemption story in track and field, having shockingly missed the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team by no-heighting in the pole vault at the Olympic Trials.
He came back with a fervor for Atlanta, scoring 8,824 points (23 off Daley Thompson‘s Olympic record) to become the first American in 20 years to win the 10-event competition.
7. Jackie Joyner-Kersee ends career with bronze
Joyner-Kersee, at 34, was hampered by a hamstring injury going into her final Olympics. She withdrew after one event in the heptathlon, leaving her in doubt for the long jump.
She gamely qualified for the long jump final. In sixth place with one jump to go, she summoned a 23-footer to snag the bronze, her sixth career Olympic medal.
8. Morceli’s win, El Guerrouj’s fall in 1500m
The 1500m saw a clash between two of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time.
World record holder and three-time world champion Nourredine Morceli won gold, but it was what happened as the bell rung that went down in history.
Hicham El Guerrouj, then 21, tripped and fell after spiking Morceli in the right Achilles tendon going into the final lap. El Guerrouj would get up, finish 12th and last and wait eight years before winning double gold in 2004.
9. Carl Lewis ties gold-medal record
Lewis, at 35, won his fourth straight Olympic title in the long jump for his ninth career Olympic gold medal. That tied the record for most career Olympic gold medals (later to be smashed by Michael Phelps).
A debate raged over whether Lewis would be put on the U.S. 4x100m relay team later in the Games. He was not, and therefore unable to try for a solo record 10th Olympic gold. Not that it would have mattered. Canada, anchored by Bailey, won by .36 of a second over the U.S.
10. Closing Ceremony
The Games concluded with a festive night of performances that included Stevie Wonder performing John Lennon‘s “Imagine.”
International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch did not declare Atlanta the “best Games ever,” as he did in Barcelona and then in Sydney.
“Well done, Atlanta,” he said. “These Centennial Games — the Games of universality and unity — have indeed been most exceptional.”
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