Sprinting (Rowing, Fencing, Cycling, etc.) Down Memory Lane
The 1996 Olympics Games
2021 marks the 25th anniversary of the Olympics in Atlanta. I remember very clearly the morning in September 1990 when the announcement was made that Atlanta would host the games. It was so exciting to imagine athletes, heads of state, and other visitors from around the world coming to our city! A lot of work to be done, to be sure. The city of Decatur hosted the Irish Olympic team, as well as a delegation from the country of Burkina Faso in West Africa (to honor the 10-year relationship with Bousse, the sister city of Decatur). Also in Decatur, the DeKalb History Center became the “Irish House,” as the Olympic Council of Ireland rented the building for the duration of the games. They even brought a Blarney stone!
There was a lot in the news about the Olympic happenings in DeKalb: Southwest DeKalb High School band members performed in the opening ceremonies, the only high school band to do so. Mia Hamm and the U.S. women’s soccer team played a match against Germany (among others) at Decatur High School. Stone Mountain Park became Olympic Park, hosting events such as tennis, archery, and cycling. The Doraville Boxing Club featured athletes from Thailand and Burkina Faso.
Decatur and Bousse, Burkina Faso, are Sister Cities.
The news of the day also reported on other happenings in town, including festivals, parades, fairs and other events surrounding the Olympics coming to Atlanta! The torch carrying event pictured here started from the steps of the DeKalb History Center and traveled down Clairemont Avenue. Singer Nanci Griffith (“From A Distance”) performed in concert and Decatur native “Whispering” Bill Anderson hosted the “Fiddler’s Festival.” 200-meter and local star Gwen Torrence was featured in a parade through Decatur. DeKalb County hosted an Olympic Business Opportunity Fair. The Garden Club of Georgia proposed the Pathway of Gold initiative, to create “beauty spots” in and around Atlanta to show our Olympic spirit.
It seems like a whirlwind 6 years, from the initial announcement to the closing ceremonies. Do you remember what you were doing during the ‘96 Olympics? Did you attend any of the games, parades, or festivals? Were you working or volunteering for the Olympics? Share your Olympic memories with us on social media.
There’s a lot more to read and learn about the Olympics in 1996 in DeKalb County. Be sure to check out the “Research and Archives” section of our website to see our selection of subject files on the Olympics, as well as other items featured in this piece. Then, click on “Contact the Archives” to make an appointment to see items in person.
Hope to see you in 2021!