AP

Atlanta Olympic venues, 20 years later (photos)

Leave a comment

ATLANTA (AP) — Twenty years after the Olympics were held in Atlanta, some remnants of that improbable summer remain a highly visible part of the city’s landscape, while others quickly faded away.

Centennial Olympic Park and Turner Field — known as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996 — were the greatest legacy of those games, though the latter faces an uncertain future after just 20 seasons as home of baseball’s Atlanta Braves, who are moving to a new suburban stadium next year.

Other venues barely outlasted the extinguishing of the Olympic flame, while still more failed to live up to their intended purpose.

A look at Atlanta’s Olympic facilities two decades later:

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC STADIUM: The 85,000-seat main stadium was site of athletics (Michael Johnson‘s world record, Carl Lewis‘ farewell) and both the opening and closing ceremonies (Muhammad Ali‘s poignant lighting of the torch). Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the longtime owner of the Braves, Ted Turner. It hosted both the World Series and the All-Star Game during its early years, but the Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium.

This photo combo shows a July 19, 1996 file photo of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games opening ceremony at Centennial Olympic Stadium, top, and a Friday July 15, 2016 photo of fireworks after an Atlanta Braves baseball game at what is now named Turner Field in Atlanta. The 85,000-seat main stadium was the site of athletics and both the opening and closing ceremonies. Afterward, the arena was converted into a 50,000-seat baseball park and renamed after the Braves' owner, Ted Turner. The Braves have fallen on hard times and are moving to SunTrust Park in 2017. Georgia State is exploring the possibility of another conversion, which would downsize Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File, John Bazemore)

GEORGIA DOME: A divider transformed this 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas — one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men’s basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America’s first victory in women’s team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017.

In this Monday, July 18, 2016 photo, a statue of a gymnast stands between the Georgia Dome, right, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games gymnastics and basketball events and current home of the Atlanta Falcons football team, and the Falcons' new stadium under construction at left. A divider transformed the Georgia Dome, a 70,000-seat football stadium into two separate arenas, one the site of second Olympic Dream Team winning gold in men's basketball, the other where the Magnificent Seven captured America's first victory in women's team gymnastics. Just 25 years after its opening, the dome is slated for demolition after $1.4 billion Mercedes-Benz Stadium opens next door in 2017. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK: This was the hub of the games, a gathering spot for sponsor tents and nightly concerts. Tragedy struck midway through the Olympics when a deadly bombing ripped through the park, but it emerged afterward as a catalyst of downtown development, now surrounded by the hugely popular Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, College Football Hall of Fame, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and a giant Ferris wheel.

GEORGIA TECH AQUATIC CENTER: Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics.

In this Friday, July 22, 2016 photo, a diver stands on a diving board during practice at Georgia Tech's McAuley Aquatic Center, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games swimming, diving, and synchronized swimming events in Atlanta. Temporary seating was used during the Olympics, providing a 14,600-seat main pool for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming. There also was a 4,000-seat temporary pool for water polo. After the games, Georgia Tech enclosed the facility and reduced capacity to just under 2,000. This year, it hosted the NCAA swimming championships as well as a pre-Olympic camp for the U.S. swim team before it departed for the Rio Olympics. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

GEORGIA WORLD CONGRESS CENTER: One of the world’s largest convention centers (and even more sprawling today after a post-Games expansion), it was divided into five separate arenas during the Olympics, reducing the need for wasteful new venues for fencing, handball, judo, table tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. That became a model for future Olympics.

ATLANTA-FULTON COUNTY STADIUM: Site of baseball during the Olympics, the former home of the Atlanta Braves served out the 1996 season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field.

In this Wednesday, July 20, 2016 photo, visitors stand next a piece of the outfield wall of what used to be Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games baseball event, and former home of the Atlanta Braves baseball team in Atlanta. The stadium served out the 1996 baseball season, then was imploded the following summer to make way for a parking lot serving adjacent Turner Field. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

OMNI COLISEUM: Just a week before Atlanta Stadium came down, this facility used for volleyball during the Olympics met the same fate. Philips Arena now occupies the site.

GEORGIA INTERNATIONAL HORSE PARK: Equestrian, modern pentathlon and the first Olympic mountain bike competition were held at the park about 30 miles east of Atlanta. It remains an equestrian and events center, with horse and mountain bike trails plus an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course open to the public.

STONE MOUNTAIN PARK ARCHERY CENTER AND VELODROME: Temporary facilities for archery and track cycling came down shortly after the Olympics. The site is now part of a songbird and habitat trail.

STONE MOUNTAIN TENNIS CENTER: A permanent tennis facility built in a corner of Stone Mountain Park quickly became a money loser and now sits idle, weeds growing through the outer courts and the scoreboard in disrepair.

SANFORD STADIUM (Athens, Georgia): The home of the Georgia Bulldogs football team hosted soccer finals, including the U.S. memorably winning the first women’s gold. The stadium known for its famous hedges (which were taken down during the Olympics and then re-planted) has been expanded to hold more than 92,000.

ALEXANDER MEMORIAL COLISEUM: Site of boxing in 1996, Georgia Tech’s basketball arena underwent a massive renovation that completely gutted the interior of the building. It reopened in 2012 as gleaming McCamish Pavilion.

HERNDON STADIUM: Perhaps the saddest legacy of the games, this 15,000-seat stadium was used during the filming of the movie “We Are Marshall” but was abandoned after Morris Brown College ran into financial difficulties. Gutted by vandals, it is now covered in graffiti and piles of trash.

LAKE LANIER (Gainesville, Georgia): This man-made lake still has its rowing facilities, which have been used for major competitions over the last two decades. This year, it hosted an Olympic qualifier for Rio.

WOLF CREEK SHOOTING COMPLEX: Some facilities remain at this suburban venue now known as the Tom Lowe Shooting Grounds, but it no longer holds major international events.

ATLANTA BEACH: Located south of the city, this venue was site of the first Olympic beach volleyball tournament. It was renamed Clayton County International Park, with the main stadium now used for concerts and other events though the park still includes several beach volleyball courts, as well as a water park, lake and biking trails.

GOLDEN PARK (Columbus, Georgia): The 5,000-seat stadium, about a two-hour drive from Atlanta, was used for the first Olympic softball competition. It served for years as home to minor league baseball, but the last of those teams, the Columbus Catfish, left after the 2008 season. The stadium remains but no longer has a major tenant.

OTHER VENUES: Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum (volleyball preliminaries), Georgia State’s GSU Sports Arena (badminton), Clark-Atlanta’s Panther Stadium (field hockey) and Morehouse’s Forbes Arena (basketball preliminaries) are still used by their respective colleges. In fact, Panther Stadium now holds the athletics track used during the Olympics. The Ocoee Whitewater Center in Tennessee (whitewater canoeing) and Wassaw Sound near coastal Savannah, Georgia (sailing) were temporary venues. Preliminary soccer matches were held in four stadiums outside Atlanta. Birmingham’s Legion Field, Orlando’s Citrus Bowl and Washington’s RFK Stadium are still in use, while Miami’s Orange Bowl was torn down to make way for a new baseball stadium.

David Boudia adjusts diving event, goal for world championships

Getty Images
Leave a comment

David Boudia earned diving medals at his last three world championships and the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, but that was on the platform. He competes on the global stage on the springboard for the first time at worlds this week.

“I don’t have a lot of high hopes,” Boudia, who is still learning the springboard after switching to it in the last year, said in a phone interview from South Korea, where he begins competition Wednesday (TV schedule here). “But I think my biggest goal is to walk away with an Olympic spot.”

An Olympic spot not necessarily for himself, but for the U.S.

Boudia, a 30-year-old father of three, and any other American will clinch 2020 Olympic quota spots by placing in the top 12 in their respective individual events this week. Those spots, and any others earned at later competitions in the next year, will be filled at trials in June in Indianapolis.

NBC Sports analyst Cynthia Potter believes Boudia, who left the sport to sell homes in 2017 and came back and suffered a concussion off the platform in 2018, can meet his goal of making Friday’s 12-man final in Gwangju.

“He would have to dive well, but not better than he’s been diving,” she said. “His springboard is really well-timed, rhythmic, and he’s for a long time known how to go into the water without making a splash.”

But challenging Rio Olympic gold and silver medalists Cao Yuan of China and Jack Laugher of Great Britain, plus defending world champion Xie Siyi of China would be very tough.

Boudia lacks their degrees of difficulty, for now. He hopes to switch out two of his six dives before his first competition of 2020, though he could insert one of them should he make the world final.

“I need a good six months, so from August to December is when we’re kind of really drilling the fundamentals of learning those new dives and getting them perfected,” he said.

Boudia rallied to beat Rio Olympic springboard diver Michael Hixon for the title in May at nationals, where the top two per event earned world berths. But Boudia competed there with about a month of competition dive practice, about half as long as he would prefer.

“Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five,” at worlds, Boudia said in May, according to TeamUSA.org.

Boudia is the lone U.S. diver to earn an individual world medal in an Olympic diving event since 2009.

The U.S. produced breakthroughs at worlds so far. Sarah Bacon became the first American woman to earn a world title since 2005, taking the non-Olympic 1m springboard event. Murphy Bromberg and Katrina Young bagged bronze in synchronized platform, ending a decade-long medal drought in any synchro event.

But Boudia’s goal must be shared among the whole team — as many top-12 finishes individually and top three in synchro events to gobble up Tokyo 2020 quota spots. The U.S. failed to qualify full teams for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

“Getting in the top 12 in the four individual Olympic events is the big deal right now,” Potter said. “Whether you are on the awards stand or not, that would be icing on the cake for a lot of these divers.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Diving Worlds TV Schedule

Anita Wlodarczyk, one of track and field’s most dominant, sidelined

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Poland hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk, the only woman to win the last five combined Olympic and world titles in a track and field event, will not go for a fourth straight world championship this fall.

Wlodarczyk had season-ending, arthroscopic left knee surgery on Monday, according to Polish media citing her coach.

Wlodarczyk, 33, has the top 15 throws on the IAAF’s all-time list, and 27 of the top 29. Her world record of 82.98 meters (scribbled on her leg pre-op) is 11 and a half feet farther the second-best woman in history. She originally took silver at the 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds but was upgraded to gold after Russian Tatyana Lysenko was stripped for doping.

Wlodarczyk won a reported 42 straight finals between 2014 and 2017, then suffered three losses in 2018 and two so far this year in three lower-level meets before the operation.

Americans DeAnna Price and Brooke Anderson rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the world this year. A U.S. woman has never finished in the top five of an Olympic or world championships hammer throw, which debuted at worlds in 1999 and the Olympics in 2000.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Wayde van Niekerk has setback in return from injury