In 1896, the first Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece. Since then, countries across the world have hosted the Games, allowing athletes to represent their homeland in the spirit of competition. Olympic athletes represent more than physical fitness as the Games blend sport, culture and education.
Last Friday marked the official start of the 31st Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The state of Georgia is well represented in this year’s Summer Olympics. The following includes athletes who list a city in Georgia as their birthplace, hometown or current residence.
- Amanda Weir (Lawrenceville) – Swimming
- Chaunté Howard (Decatur) – Track and Field
- Christian Coleman (Atlanta) – Track and Field
- Christian Taylor (Fayetteville) – Track and Field
- Gunnar Bentz (Atlanta) – Swimming
- Jay Litherland (Alpharetta) – Swimming
- Jenny Arthur (Gainesville) – Weightlifting
- Kelley O’Hara (Fayetteville) – Soccer
- Kendell Williams (Marietta) – Track and Field
- Kibwé Johnson (Suwanee) – Track and Field
- Kristi Castlin (Atlanta and Douglasville) – Track and Field
- Matt Kuchar (Sea Island) – Golf
- Maya Moore (Lawrenceville) – Basketball
- Morgan Brian (Simons Island) – Soccer
- Travis Daniel Cooper (Tyrone) – Weightlifting
- Vincent Hancock (Eatonton) – Shooting
- Walton Glenn Eller (Columbus) – Shooting
- Yijun Feng (Atlanta) – Table Tennis
Learn more about these athletes on the Team USA website and be sure to cheer on your fellow Georgians in the final week of the Games.
Atlanta Olympics 1996
It’s been 2 decades since Atlanta, Georgia, hosted the Centennial Olympic Games. Atlanta had over 6 years to prepare the city for the games, building new venues, parks and hotels, and improving and beautifying sidewalks and streets. Public funds, ticket sales and corporate sponsorships provided about $5.14 billion toward the renovations, leaving the city with an impressive new face.
Attorney Bill Payne and former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young headed the local organizing committee which produced the city’s official bid. Atlanta’s warm, southern hospitality and unique history in the civil rights movement won over local business leaders, the U.S. Olympic Committee and finally the International Olympic Committee.
Despite some difficulties in travel and technology that affected international journalists, visitors left with an overall favorable impression of our capital city.
Lasting Effects of the Games
The renovations made in preparation for the games are still visible today in Atlanta’s improved walkability and increase in downtown housing. Since the ’96 Olympics, downtown Atlanta’s revitalization has attracted business investment and tourism.
We’ve seen venues built for the Olympics put to good use. The Olympic Stadium used for the opening ceremony on July 19, 1996, was converted into Turner Field. Soon, the space will be repurposed to expand Georgia State University’scampus.
Olympic Village, which housed the world’s best athletes 20 years ago, became the first dorm option for students at Georgia State. Though it has since been sold to help fund a new dorm project, it transformed the university from a commuter to residential campus.
Change is bound to happen, but we recognize that today’s Atlanta exists because of the Olympics. To remember the 1996 Olympics and explore their impact on the city of Atlanta, visit the Centennial Olympic Park the Centennial Olympic Games Museum.