The common denominator of the most memorable moments in sport is wanting to re-tell the story.
You re-live the moment with friends, loved ones, co-workers, strangers on planes and trains, pretty much anyone who will listen.
You remember how old you were, say, when Carl Lewis won the 100 meters at the 1984 Los Angeles Games as part of a four-gold bonanza for the U.S. track and field star.
The Dream Team (1992)
Bruce Jenner (1976)
Carl Lewis (1984)
Mark Spitz (1976)
Nadia Comăneci (1976)
Marion Jones (2000)
Florence Griffth-Joyner (1988)
Kerri Strug (1996)
Michael Johnson (1996)
Mary Decker vs. Zola Budd (1984)
Mary Lou Retton (1984)
Jesse Owens (1938)
Munich massacre (1972)
Tommie Smith/John Carlos (1968)
Usain Bolt (2008)
Muhammad Ali lights the cauldron (1996)
Sugar Ray Leonard (1976)
Michael Phelps (2008)
Beijing Opening Ceremony (2008)
Which are the
Moment No. 7
Moment No. 6
Moment No. 5
Moment No. 4
Moment No. 3
Moment No. 2
Moment No. 1
You compare Lewis' golds with Usain Bolt's dominant wins in the 100 and 200 at the Beijing Games four years ago – especially debating whether Bolt's superhuman long stride will carry him to more fame and memories this summer in London. The two men tie together generations of Olympics fans.
You think about the pigtails on 14-year-old Romanian Nadia Comăneci right before she earned a perfect 10, well, seven of them on the balance beam and uneven bars at the 1976 Games in Montreal. You laugh with equal parts admiration and astonishment at the passion and wild gesturing of Bela Koralyi, the Romanian coach who is actually Hungarian and went on to coach the likes of Olympic moment-makers such as Mary Lou Retton and Kerri Strug.
You recount the dashing U.S. decathlete Bruce Jenner at those same 1976 Games – plenty of crushes to go around for fans that summer – who turned into an instant ironman during an extraordinary two days in Montreal. Jenner inspired generations of American athletes to follow in his footsteps, whether running, jumping or throwing. This summer, Jenner's legacy could result in an American sweep of the gold, silver and bronze in the men's decathlon.
The Olympics represent a literal gold mine of Memorable Moments for fans.
That's why Yahoo! Sports starts today with our exclusive Memorable Moments series of videos and stories – always the storytelling – about the Summer Olympics. We have nominated the moments when time seems to stand still for a beat while the world watches. As we anticipate the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Games on July 27, we will present the Memorable Moments of past Olympics we not only can't forget but continue to re-tell and share and pass down to the next generations of sports fans.
Of course, this time around that sharing will include posts to social media, so don't forget to follow us on Twitter (@YahooSports) and recommend us on Facebook (here). We will also be asking fans to rank their own Memorable Moments, both on Yahoo! Sports polls and in the social media space. We want to hear from you.
The guess here is that our Memorable Moments will open up a vault of Olympic memories for you – and maybe even create new ones. Our videographers, producers and reporters have spanned the world, including footage of Berlin where Jesse Owens made so much history in 1936. We convinced Nadia, now 50, to get on the balance beam for the first time since "I can't even remember the last time." (She looks fantastic, of course, which you can see for yourself.)
Lewis and Sugar Ray Leonard both grew emotional about their fathers when discussing personal Memorable Moments. (See the videos to get the full weight of their love for those men in their lives). Lewis and our Yahoo! Studios video crew spent an entire day at the Los Angeles Coliseum, which we rented to give Carl the time and space to remember.
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There's a lot more in our Memorable Moments lineup: an Israeli athlete who was supposed to be in Munich in 1972, Michael Phelps re-living the eight golds in China, the Dream Team (enough said), Jenner saying he milked more from one moment than anyone in history, exclusive interviews with Jesse Owens' three daughters recalling their dad's own words, Muhammad Ali lighting the flame in 1996 parsed with can't-miss images of a young Cassius Clay winning heavyweight gold.
The Yahoo! Sports exclusive Memorable Moments series is too much to be confined to simply what the athletes and their loved ones (yes, there are Kardashians in the Jenner video) recall about the feats. We have asked other athletes and celebrities to talk about their own memorable moments of the Summer Olympics. The answers will surprise and delight fans everywhere.
Let the memories begin.
– Bob Condor, Executive Editor, Yahoo! Sports