Flashback to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games

I am having a great time sitting in my living room cheering for Team U.S.A. at the Rio Olympics. Twenty years ago I didn’t get to see much of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta from my living room. Instead, I was volunteering with the Yachting events (now called Sailing events) near Savannah, Georgia.

Before the games began, we saw the Olympic Flame arrive in Savannah on the Schooner America. After torch bearers ran through Savannahย  they wound their way around Georgia to the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta. The world then watched as the final torch bearer Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Cauldron.

1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America
1996 Olympic Flame arrives in Savannah aboard Schooner America

Two of our friends participated in the relay through Savannah. It was such a thrill to see the Olympic Torch relay in person.

1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah
1996 Olympic torch relay in Savannah

For the Olympic Yachting events, a Day Marina was constructed in the waters of Wassaw Sound near Savannah.ย  To get there, we had to drive a few miles, ride on a bus, and ride a shuttle boat to the Day Marina along with other volunteers and athletes. For two weeks, Henry, our daughter, and I got up at the crack of dawn and put on our volunteer uniforms to help with the launch and recovery team of volunteers on the Day Marina.

Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina
Volunteers arriving by shuttle at the day marina

Tents were set up on the Day Marina to provide a home for the athletes during the long days on the water. The larger countries had their own tent and ramp to launch their boats while smaller countries shared a tent. I was assigned to work with Fiji, Guam, Jamaica, and Thailand who were sharing a tent between Team USA and Team New Zealand.

1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia
1996 Olympics Yachting Day Marina in Wassaw Sound near Savannah, Georgia

Our days were long and hot but it was worth it to be able to meet athletes and trainers from all over the world. I was even able to do a little pin trading and get a few autographs.

1986 Olympic Pins
1996 Olympic Pins

There was a flurry of activity as each team prepared to launch their boats to go out to the race course. Things got busy again when the sailors returned after their event.

USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Atlanta Olympics Bronze Medal Soling
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
USA Olympic Bronze Medalist Courtney Becker Day returns to the Day Marina
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece
1996 Olympics Mistral Gold Medal winner from Greece

The races were too far away to watch from the Day Marina. One day we got to ride a boat out to the race course to see one of the events.

1996 Olympic 470 yachting race
1996 Olympic 470 yachting race

Being an Olympic volunteer was a once in a lifetime experience. Meeting these amazing Olympians and watching them prepare for their events was something I will never forget. I’m so grateful I had the opportunity to do it.

16 thoughts on “Flashback to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games

    1. Judy, ever since then, when I watch the Olympics I am reminded of our volunteer days. And I always try to spot the volunteers around the events! It also gave me a greater appreciation of what the athletes go through to be able to compete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I can’t even begin to imagine how cool it must have been to be a volunteer at the Olympics! You saw things most of us will never see and met people we will never meet. Amazing! Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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