Montreal 1976 30 years on
17 July 2006
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games, with Canadians and the Olympic Movement reliving the spectacular Games.
Australians can also look back at the Games that sparked a renaissance for Australian Olympic Teams.
Over six thousand athletes took part in 198 events at the Games. The star of the Montreal was Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci who became the first ever gymnast to score a perfect 10.0.
She achieved seven perfect scores on her way to three Olympic gold medals. Many will recall the spectacular Opening Ceremony, the flame being lit by a laser beam and the beaver named Amik who was the mascot.
Montreal 1976 suffered from boycotts, budget blow-outs and for the Australian team it will forever be remembered as the Games that the team failed to win a gold medal.
In total, five medals were won: four silver and a bronze. It was the first time Australia had not won a gold medal since 1936, and also the lowest medal total since then.
What the modest results of Montreal did do was reveal how closely associated with our national identity was our sporting success: people cared about the lack of medals.
The outcome was many positive administrative steps to improve elite and state-based sports programs across the country. No initiative was greater than the creation of the Australian Institute of Sport, now the leading sports training facility in the world.
To read more about Australia at these Games and to read more about Montreal 1976 click here.
From a Canadian perspective Montreal was the Host City of the first Olympic Games ever held in Canada. Calgary in 1988 and Vancouver in 2010 have both benefited from the organisation of these Games and the sporting legacies.
According to Walter Sieber, former Vice President of Sport for the Montreal 1976 Organising Committee and current Vancouver Organising Committee Board Member, the most important legacy of the Montreal Games was the growth of sport in the local community.
“Right after the Games, thousands of young kids started getting involved in sport,” Walter noted.
“Before, it was only ice hockey, basketball and baseball, but the Games led to increased enrolment in other sports, such as swimming and gymnastics.”
The new interest in these sports – as well as the availability of Olympic venues for training – led to the development of many elite athletes based in Montreal that would later compete and succeed at future Games.