Host City: Barcelona, Spain
Date Started: July 31, 1992
Date Finished: August 8, 1992
Participants: 1,726 (1,104 men and 622 women) from 156 countries
Youngest Participant: Lydia Cheromei (15 years, 83 days)
Oldest Participant: Luis López (43 years, 24 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Gwen Torrence (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (30 medals)
The Barcelona Olympic track & field was held in Estadi Olímpic high above the city, on Montjuïc. The competitions were marked by upsets with several favorites failing to come thru. Sergey Bubka was a heavy favorite in the pole vault but he no-heighted and had no placement. Algeria’s Noureddine Morceli was favored in the 1,500 but he ran poorly in the final and placed seventh, with Spanish favorite Fermín Cacho winning gold. Americans Danny Everett (400) and Michael Johnson (200) failed to even make the finals in their events. One favorite who did win was Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who won the heptathlon easily, defending her title from Seoul. JJK also competed in the long jump, winning a bronze medal.
There were two very poignant and meaningful moments on the track. In the men’s 400 metres, Briton Derek Redmond started in the semi-finals, after winning his heat and quarter. But he pulled up on the backstretch and fell with a hamstring injury. He got up and started hobbling, trying to at least finish his Olympic appearance. Suddenly his father appeared from the stands, getting past security, and ran to his side. Redmond, in obvious pain, was supported by his father, placing his arm around his shoulder. He hobbled into the finish line. His father later commented that they had started this together and they would finish it together.
In the women’s 10,000 metres, the gold medal was won by Ethiopian Derartu Tuluu. It was the first distance running gold for an African woman, after decades of dominance by the men. But on the 10th lap, Tulu and South African Elana Meyer broke open the race and ran together for the last 15 laps, winning gold and silver. South Africa had been banned from the Olympics since 1964 and only returned in Barcelona. The ban had been because South Africa had not allowed their blacks equal opportunity in sports. The irony could not be missed that a black African ran alongside a white South African on their return to the Olympic Stadium. At the end of the race, Tulu and Meyer embraced.