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Barcelona 1992 - Overview

Games turn page on Cold War

At Barcelona in 1992 the Olympic movement profitted from the end of the Cold War that had so divided nations politically and provoked several disappointing boycotts.

The Soviet Union who won the medals race four years earlier no longer existed. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia took part under their own steam for the first time and the other former Soviet republics participated under the name of CIS (Community of Independant States).

Post-apartheid South Africa was back along with Albania, who were welcomed back into the fold.

Barcelona rose magnificently to the challenge and the town council launched a public works program that changed the face of the city forever.

Atop the Montjuic mountain beside Barcelona the 1929 world fair stadium was rennovated, and both a state of the art indoor arena with eight interchangeable floors and an Olympic pool that overlooked the splendid Catalan capital were built.

The city's seafront was also entirely refashioned and the beaches given a thorough cleaning up.

Vitaly Scherbo of Belarus became the first gymnast to win six gold medals at the same Olympiad but the greatest stir was caused by a group of men who were already established global superstars.

The US brought the so called "Dream Team" of professional NBA basketballers such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and co. to an Olympics for the first time.

They were quite simply the highlight of the tournament and gave a string of magical performances on their way to gold.

Plenty to cheer about

Britain's Linford Christie took advantage of Carl Lewis' absence to become the oldest man to win an Olympic 100m sprint at the ripe old age of 32.

Lewis though avenged Mike Powell in the long-jump with the third of his four consecutive golds in the event. Powell it was who had the year before broken the world record of 8.95m held since 1968 by compatriot Bob Beamon.

Mike Marsh won the 200m sprint with event favourite Michael Johnson suffering from food poisoning. Kevin Young beat Edwin Moses' 400m hurdles world record clocking in at 46.78sec for his gold.

Meanwhile French fans cheered Marie-José Pérec to a 400m gold, Cubans backed their number one athlete the high jumper Javier Sotomayor and he did not disappoint and Spain cheered the surprise 1500m win of Fermin Cacho.

British rower Steve Redgrave saw gold for the third straigt time as did Turkey's weightlifting wonder Naim Suleymanoglu while Russian swimmer Alexander Popov began his domination of the 50m and 100m freestyle races.

A lasting image of the Games was provided when Ethiopia's Derartu Tulu and South Africa's white athlete Elena Meyer, gold and silver medal winners in the 10,000m ran a lap of honour together.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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