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August 22 , 2009

XXII Olympiad

Moscow 1980, Sarajevo 1984


The Olympics are meant to be a celebration of sportsmanship and fellowship among nations, but they have sometimes fell short of that goal. XXII Olympiad, the twentieth volume in The Olympic Century series, begins with the story of one of the most politicized Games ever held: Moscow 1980.
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In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, prompting the United States to lead a 65-nation boycott of the Moscow Games. In spite of the absence of many of the world's great athletes, Moscow still produced legendary Olympic champions, like the great Cuban heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson, who became the first boxer to win three consecutive gold medals; and the Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci, who added two golds and two silvers in Moscow to take her personal medal total to 12. The absence of many top athletes also opened the door for others to make history, like sprinter Allan Wells, who won the first gold medal in the 100 metres for Great Britain since 1924.

The book then turns its focus to the 1984 Winter Games of Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. It profiles the most dominant athlete of those Games, Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi of Finland, who won all three individual golds in cross-country skiing. Sarajevo also saw the British ice dancing pair Torvil and Dean post perfect scores for artistic impression in their gold-medal performance, a feat never duplicated; as well as the participation of the first black African Olympic skier, Lamine Gueye of Senegal.

Juan Antonio Samaranch, former President of the International Olympic Committee, called The Olympic Century, 'The most comprehensive history of the Olympic games ever published'.
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