A professional football, basketball, and baseball player, Thorpe won both the decathlon and pentathlon, winning eight of the combined 15 events. He also competed in the long and high jumps and is widely considered one of the best all-around athletes of the modern era.
2 of 8AFP/Getty Images
The first high jumper to jump head first over the bar, the American used the "Fosbury flop" to win gold in the 1968 Olympics. His technique captivated the audience, and became the dominant high jumping technique.
3 of 8AP
Tommie Smith and John Carlos
The American duo snagged gold and bronze in the 1968 200-meter dash, but the receipt of those medals became a more lasting image than the race. Smith and Carlos, both African-American, raised their fists -- Smith his right, Carlos his left -- on the medal stand as the Star-Spangled Banner played as an iconic protest against racial injustice in America.
4 of 8Sven Simon/Imago/Icon SMI
Hamill became America's sweetheart with her 1976 gold medal win.
5 of 8Lynn Johnson/SI
The first American woman to medal in wrestling, Miranda took bronze in freestyle wrestling in Athens and is expected to contend for another medal in Beijing.
6 of 8Tony Duffy/Getty Images
Between 1935 and 1968, the world long jump record increased exactly eight and one-half inches to 27 feet, 43/4 inches. In one jump, Beamon won gold and topped the world record by 21 3/4 inches, jumping 29 feet, 21/2 inches later, a record that stood for 23 years.
7 of 8Manny Millan/SI
American Joan Benoit qualified for the Olympics in 1984, just 17 days after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, and later won the first Olympic women's marathon by 400 meters.
8 of 8Walter Iooss Jr./SI
The first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10.0 in the Olympics, Comaneci matched the feat seven times during the 1976 Olympics. The Romanian won nine medals, five of them gold, in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics.
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