Eric Liddell wins the 400m gold medal at the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. It was a fairy tale run for the British amateur who later became a preacher. Liddell is considered one of the most naturally gifted athletes of his generation. His feat is depicted in the movie Chariots of Fire.
The Rumble in the Jungle – one of the greatest and certainly the most famous boxing match in history took place in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974. Against all odds Ali took the barage of killing body shots from the reigning world champion George Foreman and stunned him with a lethal combination in the very end of the 8th round. It cemented his place as the greatest legend of the sport.
Ayrton Senna in his McLaren, winning the Formula One championship in 1991. Considered by many to be the greatest race driver of all time, Senna died tragically in a crash at Imola in 1994.
Jesse Owens runs for history. At the Summer Olympics in Berlin, 1936 Owens became the first athlete to win four gold medals, shattering the Nazi propaganda of white supremacy to its core. And he did it right in front of Adolph Hitler's eyes.
Maradona torments England. On June 22, 1986 don Diego Maradona was not just the best footballer of his generation – he became “The Hand of God”, by scoring one of the most famous and controversial goals in the history of the sport. Argentina won the World Cup quaterfinal 2:1 and went on to become World Champions.
Ice vs Fire – or Borg vs McEnroe. Two of tennis greatest legends played the match of the century at Wimbledon in 1980. Borg claimed the victory – his fifth consecutive at the All England Club – by the closest of margins. The Swede threw away five match points before he claimed the fifth set 8:6. It was considered the greatest tennis match ever before Nadal and Federer challenged that in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Michael Johnson became the star attraction of the Summer Olympics in 1996 that took place in Atlanta. He totally dominated the 200 and 400 metres flat races, setting two world records in the process of winning the gold medals. It was one of the most impressive athletic performaces of modern days.
“I think this was God, disguised as Michael Jordan”. The stunning admission came from non other but Larry Bird – one of the greatest players of the game. When Jordan scored 63 points in Boston Garden against arguably the greatest defense of all time, the world of basketball knew – a superstar was born. His Air Highness, Jordan is widely considered as the greatest and most influential athlete of all time.
Another chapter from the history books of basketball – Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game with his Philadelphia Warriors vs the New York Knicks. It is a feat that can hardly be challenged in the future and remains a milestone in the annals of the sport.
The King is crowned. Pele's genius was elemental for Brazil's triumph in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. He made his opponents look ridiculous and won everything there was to win in the game of football, icluding three World Cups with Brazil. In 1998 he was voted the greatest football player of the century.
49-0. The only undefeated boxing champion, Rocky Marciano is considered by many the greatest boxer of all time, for his ferociousness, his brutal power, his killer punch and his will to win. His unbeaten record remains the hallmark for every boxing star and inspired Sylvester Stallone for his epic Rocky.
Seabiscuit vs War Admiral. “The race of the century”, “the spark in the darkness of Depression”, “the greatest horse race match of all time”. These are just a few of the descriptions for what happened on November 1, 1938 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Seabiscuit, the underdog, the unheralded champion, the darling and hope of the common folk raced against War Admiral – the horse that symbolized corporate America and the big bankers that brought the Great Depression. The race was watched by 40 000 peoplle on the track and it is believed that more than 40 million listened on the radio. Seabiscuit won in emphatic fashion in the last 200 yards, showing the people that the American dream was still alive.
The Dream Team. It was Barcelona, 1992. The greatest team ever assembled in any sport, a constellation of superstars. Jordan, Bird, Johnson, Barkley, Malone… It was not about the play. It was not about the gold. It was not about the glory. It was about the dream of what makes sport great. And we still dream on, remembering Barcelona.
The match that mathered too much. Joe Louis vs Max Schmeling – arguably the most political of all boxing matches. Schmeling was the face of the Nazi-fuelled propaganda and Loius was the first African-American with the status of nationwide hero in the US. But in 1936 the German shocked the USA by defeating Loius for the first time in his career. The rematch, on June 22 1938, became one of the most important sporting events of the 20th century. Louis furiously attacked Schmeling from the start and knocked him out after just two minutes and four seconds. It was another nail in the Nazi's propaganda coffin.
When sport gave way to politics. One of the most shocking, ugliest and most controversial sporting moments of the 20th century. The USSR basketball team did the unthinkable by defeating the USA 51:50 in the final, but it came in the midst of a farce. The clock had to be reset three times, with three seconds remaining and the Americans leading by a single point. The young American players became so agitated that they put down their guard and let the Russians score in a last-second, desperate attack. It remains the most controversial Olympic moments of all time – the hour when sport gave way to politics.