Top 10 inspirational moments in Olympic history

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Why do we tune in to watch the Olympics every four years? To be dazzled by the incredible feats of athleticism? Yes, that’s part of it. But it’s the moments of true inspiration, that at times transcend mere athleticism and instill us with a sense of the best of the human spirit, that truly keep us interested. Here are 10 of the most inspirational moments in the history of the Olympic Games.

<p>At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world and Olympic records in the 100-meter and 200-meter. He also set a 4×100-meter relay record, becoming the first athlete to win three sprinting events at a single Games since Carl Lewis in 1984. (Getty) </p>
Bolt smashes the records

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt broke the world and Olympic records in the 100-meter and 200-meter. He also set a 4×100-meter relay record, becoming the first athlete to win three sprinting events at a single Games since Carl Lewis in 1984. (Getty)

<p>Merely days after losing her mother to a sudden heart attack, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette took to the ice at the 2010 Vancouver Games and not only completed her routine, but won bronze. She dedicated the medal to her mother. (AP) </p>
Joannie Rochette overcomes personal tragedy

Merely days after losing her mother to a sudden heart attack, Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette took to the ice at the 2010 Vancouver Games and not only completed her routine, but won bronze. She dedicated the medal to her mother. (AP)

<p>At the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, British duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean elevated the staid sport of ice dancing to new heights, earning perfect scores from the judges and winning a gold medal for their perfect execution of an enthralling routine set to Ravel’s “Bolero.” (Getty) </p>
Torvill and Dean dazzle the judges

At the 1984 Winter Games in Sarajevo, British duo Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean elevated the staid sport of ice dancing to new heights, earning perfect scores from the judges and winning a gold medal for their perfect execution of an enthralling routine set to Ravel’s “Bolero.” (Getty)

<p>They might not have got on the podium, but in the island nation’s first-ever appearance at a Winter Games, the Jamaican bobsled team captured the imagination of fans at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary and were eventually immortalized in a Disney film. (Getty) </p>
Jamaican bobsled team

They might not have got on the podium, but in the island nation’s first-ever appearance at a Winter Games, the Jamaican bobsled team captured the imagination of fans at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary and were eventually immortalized in a Disney film. (Getty)

<p>At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, 18-year-old Kerri Strug injured her ankle on her first vault attempt but fought through the pain to stick her landing on the second, helping Team USA beat Russia and claim its first ever team gold in women’s gymnastics. (AP) </p>
Strug sticks her landing

At the 1996 Games in Atlanta, 18-year-old Kerri Strug injured her ankle on her first vault attempt but fought through the pain to stick her landing on the second, helping Team USA beat Russia and claim its first ever team gold in women’s gymnastics. (AP)

<p>At the 1968 Mexico City Games, at the height of the civil rights movement, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their hands in a black power salute after respectively winning the gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter. (AP) </p>
Black power salute in Mexico City

At the 1968 Mexico City Games, at the height of the civil rights movement, American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their hands in a black power salute after respectively winning the gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter. (AP)

<p>At the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, Romanian Nadia Comaneci won three gold medals and became the first female gymnast to receive a perfect 10 at an Olympics gymnastics event. (Getty) </p>
Comaneci’s perfect 10

At the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, Romanian Nadia Comaneci won three gold medals and became the first female gymnast to receive a perfect 10 at an Olympics gymnastics event. (Getty)

<p>At the 1980 Winter Games at Lake Placid, USA hockey fielded a team not of NHL pros, but of collegiate and amateur players. Expectations were decidedly low, but the team showed grit beating a powerhouse Russian team in a dramatic semifinal before going on to win gold by beating Finland in the final. (AP) </p>
Miracle on Ice

At the 1980 Winter Games at Lake Placid, USA hockey fielded a team not of NHL pros, but of collegiate and amateur players. Expectations were decidedly low, but the team showed grit beating a powerhouse Russian team in a dramatic semifinal before going on to win gold by beating Finland in the final. (AP)

<p>In the era of Biles, Douglas, Raisman and co. it’s hard to envision a time when the U.S. had never won gold in gymnastics. But such was the case when an inexperienced 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton dazzled at the 1984 Games, receiving perfect 10s for her vault routine and becoming the first American to claim gymnastics gold. (Getty) </p>
Retton brings gold to the USA

In the era of Biles, Douglas, Raisman and co. it’s hard to envision a time when the U.S. had never won gold in gymnastics. But such was the case when an inexperienced 16-year-old Mary Lou Retton dazzled at the 1984 Games, receiving perfect 10s for her vault routine and becoming the first American to claim gymnastics gold. (Getty)

<p>At the 1936 Berlin Games, black American athlete Jesse Owens gave comeuppance to the myth of the Nazi superman. The American won four gold medals, beating out the supposedly superior German athletes and allegedly, leaving Hitler so stymied he refused to even meet Owens. (Getty) </p>
Jesse Owens stuns Hitler

At the 1936 Berlin Games, black American athlete Jesse Owens gave comeuppance to the myth of the Nazi superman. The American won four gold medals, beating out the supposedly superior German athletes and allegedly, leaving Hitler so stymied he refused to even meet Owens. (Getty)

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