Comaneci, Leonard, Alekseyev among notable performers at 1976 Olympics

By The Canadian Press
July 12, 2016 - 1:00am

MONTREAL — While Canada became the only host country not to win a gold medal at a Summer Olympics, the 1976 Games had notable performances from athletes from around the world. Here are some of the stars of the Games:

Nadia Comaneci, gymnastics

All the world seemed to fall in love with the ponytailed 14-year-old from Romania who became the first to earn a perfect 10 score on the uneven bars. It was the first of seven 10s for the four-foot-11 sprite, who also won the balance beam and overall golds and got bronze in the floor exercises. The scoreboard at the Montreal Forum could only post two digits, so she was a little confused when her first 10 was written as 1.0.

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Sugar Ray Leonard, boxing

His light-welterweight gold was one of five won by what is considered the best U.S. Olympic boxing team ever, but all eyes were on the flashy fighter who won all six of his matches by 5-0 scores. As a pro, Leonard was a five-time champion, perhaps the biggest name in the sport in the 1980s. He returned for the Brawl in Montreal in 1980 against Roberto Duran.

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Alberto Juantorena, athletics

The Cuban became the only athlete to win the 400- and 800-metre events at the same Games. He had only taken up the 800 seriously that year, but set a world record of one minute 43.50 seconds.

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Vasily Alekseyev, weightlifting

There was a freak show quality to the attention paid to the 350-pound Soviet, who stunned viewers by lifting 500-plus pound weights as if they were toys. The super-heavyweight, who set 80 world records in his career, repeated his gold medal performance from the 1972 Games in Munich.

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John Naber, swimming

The American knew he had little chance of topping compatriot Mark Spitz's seven swimming gold medals and seven world records from the 1972 Games. So he collected a mere four golds, all in world record time. Michael Phelps topped them both in 2008 with eight golds.

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Kornelia Ender, swimming

She also won four golds and set four world records, the first woman to do so, but the exploits of the East German team were considered suspect even then. She later revealed she was regularly injected with a substance, but wasn't sure what it was. For lack of proof, her medals still stand.

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Bruce Jenner, athletics

The name is now Caitlyn Jenner, having officially renamed and re-identified himself last year as a transgender woman. In 1976, he was a brash decathlete who set a world record of 8,616 points in Montreal. A fan handed him an American flag, which he waved to the crowd, starting an Olympic track tradition.

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Edwin Moses, athletics

It wasn't considered that big of a deal when the brainy American won the 400-metre hurdles. But it presaged one of the most remarkable feats in the sport's history — 107 consecutive wins in race finals over a nearly 10-year period, including another gold at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.

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Greg Joy, athletics

He didn't win, but the Vancouver (now Ottawa) high jumper became the toast of the Games for his silver medal performance that had the Olympic Stadium crowd on the edge of their seats. It earned him the nod as Canada's flag-bearer at the closing ceremonies.

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Princess Anne, equestrian

Anne Mountbatten-Windsor didn't win the three-day event on Queen Elizabeth's horse Goodwill. But she was the only female athlete exempted from since-dropped gender-testing, which was deemed inappropriate in her case. Also useless, since men and women compete together in her sport.

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Lasse Viren, athletics

The Finn won the 5,000- and 10,000-metre events at the 1972 Games and then became the first ever to do it again in Montreal. A day after the 5,000, he finished fifth in the marathon. There were persistent rumours of blood-doping, which he denied.

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Miklos Nemeth, athletics

The Hungarian javelin thrower was the first son of a gold medallist to win gold. His father Imre did it at the 1948 Games in the hammer throw.

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Klaus Dibiasi, diving

The Austrian-born Italian won gold from the platform for a third straight Olympics.

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Thomas Bach, fencing

He wasn't well known when he won gold for West Germany in the team foil event. Now, he's president of the International Olympic Committee.

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Vladimir Bure, swimming

He didn't win, but how many Summer Games athletes get their name on the Stanley Cup? The father of Pavel and Valeri Bure did it as fitness coach of the 2003 New Jersey Devils. 

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

©2016 The Canadian Press

Six stories in the news today, July 12

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