DRAMA AND TRAGEDY
The 1996 Games were given a dramatic and emotional start when the cauldron was lit by sporting legend Muhammad Ali. However, on 27 July tragedy struck when a terrorist bomb exploded in the Centennial Olympic Park. Two people died and a further 110 people were injured.
For the first time in Olympic history, all 197 recognised National Olympic Committees were represented at the Games. Beach volleyball, mountain biking, lightweight rowing and women's football made their first appearance and sailor Hubert Raudaschl (AUT) became the first person ever to compete in nine Olympic Games.
In track and field, Marie-José Pérec, the French athlete, won the 200m and successfully defended her 400m title. She became the most successful French female athlete of all time and the first athlete to win the 400m twice. Not to be outdone, Michael Johnson of the US became the first man in Olympic history to run and win both the 200m and 400m. His victory over 200m in 19.32 seconds established a new world record.
Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu became the first weightlifter in history to win three consecutive Olympic titles. "When he eats at a restaurant, nobody asks him to pay the bill; if he breaks the speed limit, he does not get fined, and the police wish him a pleasant journey," wrote a Turkish journalist.
Athletes: 10,318 (3,512 women, 6,806 men)
Media: 15,108 media (5,695 written press, 9,413 broadcasters)