Turner Field

Memorable moments from Centennial Olympic Stadium (Turner Field)

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All that will be left are memories once Turner Field is demolished.

Of course, Turner Field was originally known as Centennial Olympic Stadium. It was built for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, the Centennial Games 100 years after the first modern Olympics were staged.

Here are 10 highlights from 17 years ago, in no particular order:

1. Muhammad Ali lights Olympic cauldron

The night of July 19 provided the lasting image of the Games. Ali, 54 and slowed by Parkinson’s, was the final leg of the torch relay, receiving a handoff from swimmer Janet Evans and lighting the Olympic cauldron.

Later in the Games, Ali would receive a replacement for the 1960 Olympic gold medal he lost.

2. Michael Johnson breaks world record in 200m

The man with the golden shoes doubled up in the 200m and 400m. He broke the Olympic record to win the 400m in 43.49 seconds, but his 200m gold three days later was more impressive.

Johnson, in his trademark upright running style, took a whopping .34 of a second off his previous record set less than two months before the Games. He ran fast enough to be ticketed for speeding in a school zone.

3. Gail Devers dedicates 100m win to bombing victims

Devers, known for her long fingernails, edged Merlene Ottey and Georgia native Gwen Torrance in a photo finish to defend her Olympic title. Devers and Ottey both ran 10.94, while Torrance took bronze in 10.96.

Devers said after that the victims of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing from earlier that day were in her thoughts.

4. Donovan Bailey breaks world record in 100m

The Canadian followed up his world championship with an Olympic title, winning in 9.84 seconds to break Leroy Burrell‘s world record of 9.85 from 1994.

Bailey’s look of astonishment as he crossed the finish line was an indelible memory from the track and field competition at those Games. As was 1992 Olympic champion Linford Christie‘s false-start disqualification.

5. Marie-Jose Perec pulls off 200m-400m double

The French gazelle got far less press than Johnson did for his 200m-400m double. She defended her title in the 200m and then won the 400m in an Olympic record time.

Australian Cathy Freeman took silver in the 400m, four years before she became the star of the 2000 Olympics.

6. Dan O’Brien wins decathlon

O’Brien was a redemption story in track and field, having shockingly missed the 1992 U.S. Olympic Team by no-heighting in the pole vault at the Olympic Trials.

He came back with a fervor for Atlanta, scoring 8,824 points (23 off Daley Thompson‘s Olympic record) to become the first American in 20 years to win the 10-event competition.

7. Jackie Joyner-Kersee ends career with bronze

Joyner-Kersee, at 34, was hampered by a hamstring injury going into her final Olympics. She withdrew after one event in the heptathlon, leaving her in doubt for the long jump.

She gamely qualified for the long jump final. In sixth place with one jump to go, she summoned a 23-footer to snag the bronze, her sixth career Olympic medal.

8. Morceli’s win, El Guerrouj’s fall in 1500m

The 1500m saw a clash between two of the greatest middle-distance runners of all time.

World record holder and three-time world champion Nourredine Morceli won gold, but it was what happened as the bell rung that went down in history.

Hicham El Guerrouj, then 21, tripped and fell after spiking Morceli in the right Achilles tendon going into the final lap. El Guerrouj would get up, finish 12th and last and wait eight years before winning double gold in 2004.

9. Carl Lewis ties gold-medal record

Lewis, at 35, won his fourth straight Olympic title in the long jump for his ninth career Olympic gold medal. That tied the record for most career Olympic gold medals (later to be smashed by Michael Phelps).

A debate raged over whether Lewis would be put on the U.S. 4x100m relay team later in the Games. He was not, and therefore unable to try for a solo record 10th Olympic gold. Not that it would have mattered. Canada, anchored by Bailey, won by .36 of a second over the U.S.

10. Closing Ceremony

The Games concluded with a festive night of performances that included Stevie Wonder performing John Lennon‘s “Imagine.”

International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch did not declare Atlanta the “best Games ever,” as he did in Barcelona and then in Sydney.

“Well done, Atlanta,” he said. “These Centennial Games — the Games of universality and unity — have indeed been most exceptional.”

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Curling siblings secure mixed doubles Olympic quota spot for U.S.

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The United States will be represented when mixed doubles curling makes its Olympic debut in PyeongChang, thanks, in part, to the performance of siblings Becca and Matt Hamilton at the 2017 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.

Although the Hamiltons finished well off the podium in 10th, their work, coupled with a third place finish at the 2016 World Championships by Joe Polo and Tabitha Peterson, is all the U.S. needed to lock in an Olympic spot for 2018. The bronze won by Polo and Peterson in 2016 was the first time the United States had won a world championship medal in mixed doubles curling, according to TeamUSA.org.

The Hamiltons opened the 2017 World Championships with a perfect 7-0 record through pool play, but a 6-5 loss to Finland in a match that needed extra ends took them out of contention for a medal. Wins against Hungary and Italy moved them into position to get the necessary points to land the Olympic quota spot. In their final match at the 2017 Worlds the Hamiltons fell to Russia, 5-7.

At the top of the 2017 World Championship final standings, Switzerland won the gold, Canada took silver and China left with bronze.

The eight mixed doubles team field set to compete in PyeongChang includes China, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, United States, Norway, Finland and hosts Korea. Curling begins in PyeongChang on February 8, 2018, one day ahead of the Opening Ceremony, with competition lasting throughout the entire span of the Olympic Games.

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President of National Olympic Committees association leaves FIFA post amid bribery claims

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GENEVA (AP) — FIFA Council member Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait is resigning from his soccer roles under pressure from allegations in an American federal court that he bribed Asian officials.

Sheikh Ahmad said Sunday in a statement he will withdraw from a May 8 election in Bahrain for the FIFA seat representing Asia, which he currently holds.

“I do not want these allegations to create divisions or distract attention from the upcoming AFC (Asian Football Confederation) and FIFA Congresses,” said the Kuwaiti royal, who denies any wrongdoing.

“Therefore, after careful consideration, I have decided it is in the best interests of FIFA and the AFC, for me to withdraw my candidacy for the FIFA Council and resign from my current football positions,” he said.

The long-time Olympic Council of Asia president contacted the ethics panels of FIFA and the IOC after the allegations were made in Brooklyn federal courthouse on Thursday.

FIFA audit committee member Richard Lai, an American citizen from Guam, pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges related to taking around $1 million in bribes, including from Kuwaiti officials. The cash was to buy influence and help recruit other Asian soccer officials prepared to take bribes, Lai said in court.

Sheikh Ahmad resigned his candidacy ahead of a FIFA panel deciding whether to remove him on ethical grounds.

The FIFA Review Committee, which rules on the integrity of people seeking senior FIFA positions, has been studying the sheikh’s candidacy since the allegations emerged, The Associated Press reported on Saturday.

The FIFA ethics committee is making a separate assessment of whether to provisionally suspend the sheikh, a long-time leader of Kuwait’s soccer federation who was elected to FIFA’s ruling committee in 2015.

Resigning from his soccer positions does not necessarily put Sheikh Ahmad out of reach of FIFA ethics prosecutors and judges if any action was taken.

In 2012, former FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam of Qatar was banned for life by the ethics committee days after he resigned.

Bin Hammam was also clearly identified in Lai’s court hearing for having paid Lai a total of $100,000 in bribes to support the Qatari’s failed challenge to FIFA’s then-president Sepp Blatter in 2011. Bin Hammam was removed from that election contest in a Caribbean bribery case.

Sheikh Ahmad has also contacted the IOC’s ethics commission about the allegations against him, the IOC said on Saturday.

As president since 2012 of the global group of national Olympic bodies, known as ANOC, Sheikh Ahmad’s support has often been cited as key to winning Olympic election and hosting awards. The sheikh was widely credited for helping Thomas Bach win the IOC presidency in 2013.

Although Sheikh Ahmad was not named in Department of Justice and court documents last week, he has become one of the most significant casualties of the sprawling U.S. federal investigation of bribery and corruption in international soccer revealed two years ago.

The sheikh could be identified in a transcript of Lai’s court hearing which said “co-conspirator #2 was also the president of Olympic Council of Asia.” Sheikh Ahmad has been OCA president since 1991.

Co-conspirator #3 was described as having a “high-ranking” role at OCA, and also linked to the Kuwait soccer federation.

According to the published transcript, Lai claimed he “received at least $770,000 in wire transfers from accounts associated with Co-Conspirator #3 and the OCA between November of 2009 and about the fall of 2014.”

“I understood that the source of this money was ultimately Co-Conspirator #2 and on some occasion Co-Conspirator #3 told me to send him an email saying that I need funds so he could show the email to Co-Conspirator #2,” Lai said in court.

Lai admitted that he agreed to help recruit other Asian officials that voted in FIFA elections who would help Kuwait’s interests.

The Guam soccer federation leader since 2001, Lai pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy charges and failing to disclose foreign bank accounts. He agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties, and will be sentenced at a later date.

The American federal investigation of corruption linked to FIFA has indicted or taken guilty pleas from more than 40 people and marketing agencies linked to soccer in the Americas since 2015.

Lai’s case marked the first major step into Asia, and suggests other soccer officials potentially recruited by the Kuwait faction could be targeted.

The Asian election for FIFA seats on May 8 in Manama, Bahrain, is the same day as a FIFA Council meeting which the sheik will not attend. The FIFA congress is held in the city three days later.

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