by Rev. Lori Ethridge
Minister to Senior Adults
Tuesday of this week happened to be the twentieth anniversary of the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games held in Atlanta. I can remember the excitement and the hullabaloo of this worldwide event as if it were yesterday with Muhammad Ali lighting the ceremonial torch.
On Wednesday, July 20, oddly enough, the senior adults recognized this anniversary with a trip to the Atlanta History Center where there is an
exhibit honoring Mr. Billy Payne along with his host committee. The exhibit commemorates not only the monumental efforts made in order to host the Centennial Olympic Games but also the Games themselves. These Olympic Games were the first time in history when all 197 recognized National Olympic Committees were represented. Some of the sporting highlights were in track and field and in weightlifting. Marie-José Pérec of France became the most successful female French athlete of all time and the first to win the 400m twice. Michael Johnson of the USA became the first man in Olympic history to run and win both the 200m and the 400m. His victory in 19.32 seconds in the 200m race set a new world record at the time. Turkish weightlifter Naim Suleymanoglu became the first weightlifter to win three consecutive Olympic titles.
Unfortunately, the bombing in Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996, cast a shadow over the otherwise celebratory Olympic Games. Two people lost their lives and over one hundred others were injured. As the Olympic Games are soon to begin in Brazil and with the recent horrific
attacks in Orlando, in Dallas, in Nice, and in Baton Rouge, I plead with you to be in prayer for the safety of the athletes and the spectators alike as they gather in Brazil. May the nations meet in the spirit of healthy competition and in the arena of peace. Let the games begin!