The return of the modern games to the place of its birth 108 years prior provide plenty of 2004 Summer Olympics highlights from which to choose. Here is a list of five of the biggest moments of the 2004 Athens Games.
- Marathoner Molestation. Running the same Marathon route from the 1896 Athens Olympics, Vanderlei de Lima of Brazil leads with only a couple of miles to go when he is attacked by a crazed spectator, sending de Lima into the crowd and out of the lead. The Brazilian works his way back into the race eventually finishing third but ranking his ordeal number one on our list of the top 2004 Summer Olympic highlights.
- Birth of an Olympic Legend. His name not yet synonymous with Olympic swimming dominance, 19-year-old Michael Phelps begins his assault on the Olympic record book with 8 medals—six of them gold—earning the next spot on our list of top 2004 Athens highlights. Four years later at the Beijing Games, Phelps will win a record 8 gold medals—breaking Mark Spitz’s 1972 total of 7—giving Michael an amazing 16 career Olympic medals.
- USA Basketball Team Shoots an Air Ball. One of the 2004 Summer Olympic highlights is actually a lowlight for U.S. basketball fans. Featuring a roster made up of NBA stars like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, Team USA finishes a disappointing third in a sport in which they once dominated and takes home the bronze behind Argentina (gold) and Italy (silver).
- USA Women Swim to Record. The 200 meter relay team of Natalie Coughlin, Carly Piper, Dana Vollmer and Kaitlin Sandeno beats China while finishing in a world record time of 7:53.42 to win gold for the US and earn recognition as one of the top 2004 Summer Olympic highlights.
- Hicham Meet Paavo. For 80 years, Paavo Nurmi stood alone as the only Olympian runner to win gold in both 1,500 and 5,000 meters at the 1924 Games. Nurmi’s reign ends when Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco wins both events at Athens running his way onto our list of the top highlights from the 2004 Summer Olympics.