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Wednesday, 16 January, 2002, 11:10 GMT

Losers win hearts

1980 to 1994

Two of America's greatest Olympic moments happened on home soil at the 1980 Winter Games, held at Lake Placid, New York.

Eric Heiden won all five men's speed skating events, an unprecedented achievement.

And an inexperienced ice hockey team won gold in their sport, an event Americans referred to as "The Miracle on Ice".

The Soviet Union still topped the medals table, though, with 22.

After the 1984 Sarajevo Games, the British public would never forget the names Torvill and Dean.

Ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean produced nine perfect sixes to take the gold medal.

Star of the show

East Germany won more golds than the USSR but the Soviets still had the biggest medal haul, with 25.

A British athlete was again the star of the show at Calgary, Canada, in 1988.

But ski jumper Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards could not claim to have been as successful as Torvill and Dean.

He finished last in both individual events, but his unusual style made him the talk of the Games.

It proved to be the Olympics where those who lost became more famous than those who won.

The bobsled will be remembered for Jamaica having a team - thus inspiring a future film about their exploits called "Cool Runnings" - and by Prince Albert of Monaco competing.

One nation

The Soviet Union continued its dominance by taking 29 medals.

France in 1992 was the first post-Cold War Games and featured Germany competing as one nation and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania entering under their own flags.

Germany were top of the medals table with 26.

There was a gap of only two years before the next event, at Lillehammer in 1994, in order to ensure future Winter Olympics would not take place in the same year as their summer counterparts.

The build-up was dominated by the attack on American figure skater Nancy Kerrigan and the subsequent news that team-mate Tonya Harding was involved.

Kerrigan almost took gold but was edged out by Ukrainian Oksana Baiul.

Harding finished out of contention and has not competed since.

Italian Manuela Di Centa won five medals in cross-country skiing at Lillehammer and Russian nordic skier Lyubov Egorova added another four to her previous two, to tie the record at six.

Hosts Norway (26) returned to the top of the medals table.


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