From titanic clashes between sporting giants to iconic stars who redefined their sports, here are 7 epic moments that scorched their way into sports history.
1. Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game
Wilt Chamberlain achieved his 100-point game in 1962. This was already an incredible season in which Chamberlain averaged a record 50.4 points per game, and had broken the NBA single-game scoring record with 78 points.
Going down in history as one of the greatest personal achievements in basketball, Chamberlain set the 100 point NBA record for the Philadelphia Warriors, against the New York Knicks, with a 169–147 win at Hershey Sports Arena, Pennsylvania. He also set five other league records that game, including most free throws. The teams broke the record for most combined points in a game (316).
2. Kerri Strug Becomes a National Hero
Kerri Strug was a member of the Magnificent Seven, the victorious all-around women’s gymnastics team that represented the United States at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. It was there she performed the infamous ‘one-footed vault’ after she’d suffered severe damage to her ankle in her previous attempt.
Despite the injury, she pulled off the landing, collapsing almost immediately in agony from the pain. Perhaps partly due to her inspiring heroism, she earned enough points to take the Gold in front of the home crowd, instantly earning respect and admiration from viewers around the world. She was carried to the podium by her coach, Béla Károlyi.
3. Diego Maradona Scores the Greatest Goal of All Time
An enigmatic and skilled Argentinian player, Maradona is credited with taking his country to the top of the football world in the Mexico 1986 World Cup. In the semi-finals, they faced rivals England in a game which produced two of the most famous goals in football history, both scored by Maradona.
The wildly contentious ‘Hand of God’ goal came first, soon followed by a sublime goal in which Maradona single-handedly took on the England team, dribbling past five defenders and dummying the goal-keeper. The goal led to Argentina lifting the World Cup.
4. The Miracle on Ice
This legendary ice hockey game took place between the USSR and USA at the 1980 Winter Olympics final held in Lake Placid, New York. The veteran USSR team were clear favorites, having won the gold medal in five of the six previous Winter Olympic Games. However, they were handed a major upset by a young team of amateurs.
The victory became one of the most iconic moments in U.S. sports, it’s fame being cemented by sportscaster Al Michaels, who famously declared in the final seconds, “Do you believe in miracles?! YES!” The win was voted the greatest moment in 20th-century sports history by Sports Illustrated.
5. Michael Phelps Becomes the Most Successful Olympian Ever
In 2008, Phelps stunned Beijing and the world by beating Mark Spitz’s 7 Olympic Gold medals record in one Games. Breaking multiple world records, Phelps took home 8 gold medals to become the most successful athlete in Olympic history, and perhaps one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Upon completing the event that awarded him his eighth gold medal and eighth Olympic record in as many events, Phelps stated “Records are always made to be broken no matter what they are … Anybody can do anything that they set their mind to.”
6. Dwight Clark’s ‘Legendary Catch’
A moment known by every fan of American Football is simply known as ‘The Catch’. It took place in the 1982 NFC Championship game where the 49er’s and the Cowboy’s were neck-to-neck. With just 58 seconds left in the game, wide receiver Dwight Clark made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone. With this he completed a 6-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Montana, enabling the 49ers to defeat the Cowboys, 28–27.
A single brilliant catch by Clark meant that the 49ers had secured one of the most memorable wins in the sport’s history. The game also represented the end of the Cowboys’decade-long domination in the NFC, and marked the beginning of the 49ers’ rise as an NFL dynasty in the 1980s.
7. The Rumble in the Jungle
This epic boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman has been called “arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century”. This historic match saw the 32-year old Ali challenge the formidable Foreman for the Championship. The ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ took place in front of a crowd of 60,000 people, in Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974.
Foreman was world champion with a 40 match win-streak, Ali was a former heavyweight champion. The two giants of the sport clashed in the gruelling heat. Ali took the fight to the eighth round and managed to seal an epic win with his famous right arm. He won by knockout, putting Foreman down just before the end of the round. The fight sealed Ali’s reputation as a worldwide sports icon.
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