Berliner Tageblatt - Olympic legends: from Nadia Comaneci to 'Flo-Jo' - Part 3

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Olympic legends: from Nadia Comaneci to 'Flo-Jo' - Part 3
Olympic legends: from Nadia Comaneci to 'Flo-Jo' - Part 3 / Photo: © DPA/AFP/File

Olympic legends: from Nadia Comaneci to 'Flo-Jo' - Part 3

AFP continues its look back at the history of the Olympics to pick out some of the legends that have lit up the Games.

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- Nadia Comaneci: the perfect 10 -

Aged just 14, the Romanian became the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 -- winning a jaw-dropping seven maximums from judges at the 1976 Games in Montreal.

She collected four 10s for the uneven bars and three for the beam to take gold in both events plus the all-round title.

Comaneci competed until 1981 and then fled Romania just before the fall of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1989, settling in the United States.

From there she used the archives of Romania's feared communist-era secret police to reveal the beatings and humiliation she suffered even while being feted for her sporting glories.

- Carl Lewis: track-and-field icon -

A legend of 20th century track and field, US star athlete Carl Lewis won nine Olympic golds and was eight times crowned world champion.

Graceful and instantly recognisable with his million-dollar smile, long legs and crew cut, he sat out the 1980 Moscow Games due to the US Cold War boycott.

But he romped to victory in Los Angeles four years later, matching the legendary performance of Jesse Owens in Berlin in 1936 by winning four gold medals, in 100m, long jump, 200m and the 4x100m.

Lewis took the long jump again in Seoul in 1988, also winning the 100m after Ben Johnson's doping disqualification, becoming the first man to retain his title in the discipline.

Two more golds followed in Barcelona and in 1996, returning from injury for a last Olympic hurrah at 35, he won a fourth consecutive long jump gold.

Lewis was also a savvy businessman who was one of the first athletes to develop his own clothing line.

- Florence Griffith-Joyner: nails and glory -

Known as "Flo-Jo" and admired as much for her multicoloured six-inch nails and glitzy outfits, the US sprinter is still the fastest woman ever, more than three decades after she set world records in the 100m and 200m.

She made history at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, winning her 100m heat in a record 10.49sec, which is still unsurpassed, and then collecting gold in the final with metres to spare on her closest challenger.

She also roared to victory in the 200m in 21.34sec, another world record that has never been beaten.

Her exploits on the track and rapid muscle development fuelled suspicions of doping but she tested negative throughout her career.

She retired at the height of her fame, just five months after Seoul.

The seventh child from a family of eleven, Flo-Jo's life was cut short on September 21, 1998, when at the age of 38 she died in her sleep after an epileptic fit.