The Centennial Olympic were hosted by Atlanta, Georgia and were officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali, returned to the Olympic arena to light the flame at the opening ceremony. 197 nations participated - 28 more than the previous benchmark - and the home nation topped the honours table with 44 gold medals.
American Michael Johnson produced the outstanding story of the 1996 Games by becoming the first athlete in history to win both the 200 metres and 400 metres at a single Olympics. His victory over 200m in 19.32 seconds established a new world record. Great Britain's Matthew Pinsent and Steve Redgrave won gold in rowing, men's coxless pair.