Tokyo Countdown 19-15: 25 days, 25 amazing Olympic memories

Posted at 11:14 AM, Jul 09, 2021

The Tokyo Games are almost here. We individually revisit an amazing Olympic memory, per diem, over the 25-day leadup.

This countdown began on Monday, June 28. Here's part one.

NBC will have comprehensive coverage of the Tokyo Olympics' Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 23, beginning live at 6:55 a.m. ET. The ceremony will be re-aired at 7:30 p.m. ET for U.S. viewers who tune in for primetime, then replayed again overnight.

For more thrilling Olympic memories, stream the Great Moments channel on Peacock.

15 | U.S. Softball, 1996 Atlanta Games

Gold - Final

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Softball made its Olympic debut at the 1996 Atlanta Games and host nation United States was the heavy favorite to win the inaugural tournament.

The U.S. won eight of its nine games, losing only to Australia 2-1 in round-robin play, and was led by first-baseman and recent UCLA grad Sheila Cornell, now Cornell-Douty, who batted .393 with 11 hits, three home runs and nine RBI across all competition.

In the final, Team USA beat China 3-1 to win gold, a medal it went on to successfully defend in both the next Olympics at the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Games. The streak would end at the 2008 Beijing Games with a loss to Japan in the final.

Olympic softball wasn't held at the 2012 London and 2016 Rio Games. It makes its return in Tokyo.

SEE MORE: Softball 101: Olympic History

16 | Carly Patterson, 2004 Athens Games

Gold - All-Around

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Before Carly Patterson's all-around title at the 2004 Athens Olympics, the United States hadn't claimed a medal of any kind in the event since Shannon Miller's silver at the 1992 Barcelona Games, and hadn't won gold since the legendary performance of Mary Lou Retton at the boycotted 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Ending a 20-year, four-Games drought, Patterson scored a seventh-best bars (9.575), fourth-best vault (9.375) and had the top beam (9.725) and floor (9.712) to win the Olympic title by less than two-tenths of a point and set in motion a U.S. gold-medal streak that still stands today — following Patterson: Nastia Liukin in 2008, Gabby Douglas in 2012 and Simone Biles at the most recent 2016 Rio Games.

SEE MORE: Gymnastics 101: Olympic History

17 | Suni Lee, U.S. Gymnastics Trials in 2021

Session-Best - Uneven Bars

SEE MORE: Trials: Suni Lee hits difficult bars routine on Day 1

Suni Lee received a session-best 15.300 bars score during Day 1 of this year's U.S. Olympic Trials, nearly perfecting the routine's execution.

Not only was it the highest women's bars score across all trials competition — her second-session 14.900 score was next-best, followed by Riley McCusker's 14.800 in the first session — it was called the "hardest bar routine being done in the world today."

Lee, a three-time medalist at the 2019 World Championships, finished runner-up for the trials all-around title behind Simone Biles; but she outscored her on Day 2, handing Biles her first single-day loss of an all-around competition since 2013 nationals.

SEE MORE: Gymnastics 101: Olympic History

18 | Katie Ledecky, 2012 London Games

Gold - 800m Freestyle

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At just 15 years old, American Katie Ledecky made her international meet debut at the 2012 London Olympics. Team USA's youngest member competed in one event, the 800m freestyle, and won her first gold, defeating host nation favorite and 2008 Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington of Great Britain in front of crowd that included Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The Maryland native's winning time of 8:14.63 in the final broke Janet Evans' American record of 8:16.22 that had stood since 1989.

U.S. swimmers topped the medal standings with 16 gold and 31 total medals, and also broke five of the nine world records set during the Games.

SEE MORE: Swimming 101: Olympic History

19 | U.S. Women's Soccer, 2012 London Games

Gold - Final

SEE MORE: Remembering USWNT's redemptive 2012 Olympic win

The United States women's soccer team entered the 2012 London Games the two-time defending Olympic champions. But just the year prior the Americans had lost to Japan by penalty shootout in the 2011 World Cup final, and it would be the Japanese they'd face again in the gold-medal match.

The team finished group play with three wins, did away with New Zealand 2-0 in the quarterfinals and beat Canada 4-3 in the semifinals with a 120th-minute, stoppage-time goal – a header from 21-year-old Alex Morgan. In front of an Olympic-record crowd for the final, 2008 Beijing Games hero Carli Lloyd scored in the eighth and 54th minutes to help Team USA win 2-1.

A World Cup loss avenged and a fourth U.S. Olympic team gold — individually, also a fourth for captain Christie Rampone.

SEE MORE: Soccer 101: Olympic History