Saturday, November 14, 2009

1996 Atlanta Olympics -- USA Stamps

On May 2, 1996, the U.S. Postal Service held first day of issue ceremonies in Washington D.C. for a new sheet of 20 32-cent stamps commemorating the Atlanta's 1996 Summer Olympics. The ceremonies were originally scheduled to have been held in Atlanta, but at the last minute the Postal Service switched the official release site to Washington D.C. Because many people had planned to attend the Atlanta ceremonies, the Postal Service allowed the Peachtree Center post office in downtown Atlanta to also sell the Olympic stamps on May 2. 

Olympic sports featured on stamps in the sheet (along with the descriptive text that appears on the back of the stamp) are:

Men's Cycling - Sprint cycling was one of the original events in the 1896 Games. It combines speed and strategy on a banked track. A women's event was added in 1988.

Women's Diving - Platform diving is performed from a board 10 meters above the water. The most difficult dive is the back 1 1/2 somersault with 4 1/2 twists. The U.S. has won over half the medals awarded in both men's and women's events.

Women's Running - There are 8 women's running events, from 100 meters to the marathon (26 miles, 385 yards). Until 1964, the longest race was only 200 meters.
Men's Canoeing - Whitewater, or slalom, events were added temporarily in 1972 and permanently in 1988. Flatwater canoeing has been part of the Games since 1936.

Decathlon - The decathlon consists of 10 events. On the first day, athletes compete in the 100-meter dash, long jump, shot put, high jump, and 400-meter run. On the second day, they perform the 110-meter hurdles, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, and 1500-meter run.

Women's Soccer - Although men's soccer has been a part of the Games since 1900, a women's tournament will be held for the first time in 1996. Eight teams will take part.

Men's Shot Put - The shot put has been included in all Games since 1896. A shot is a 16-pound ball of iron or brass. The United States has won 15 of 22 gold medals.

Women's Sailboarding - The first sailboarding contest was included in the 1984 Los Angeles Games. A separate women's event was added in 1992.

Women's Gymnastics - Women gymnasts compete in an all-around event, a team event, floor exercises, balance beam, uneven bars, and vault. Contestants must be at least 15 years old by the end of 1996.

Freestyle Wrestling - Wrestling has 10 weight divisions. It is the only sport with a maximum weight limit; wrestlers must be less than 286 pounds. The United States has earned more medals than any other nation.

Women's Softball - Softball will make its first appearance in the 1996 Games. The United States team is the world champion and one of the teams favored to win a medal.

Women's Swimming - The women's 400-meter freestyle event was first held in 1920; the 800-meter event was added in 1968. American women have won 15 of 24 gold medals in these events.

Men's Sprinting Events - The 100 meters and 400 meters were part of the first Games in 1896. In the 100, 200, and 400 meters and the two sprint relays, the United States has won two-thirds of the gold medals.

Men's Rowing - There will be 14 rowing events contested at the 1996 Games; 8 for men and 6 for women. For the first time, lightweight events will be included for men under 160 lbs. and for women under 130 lbs.

Beach Volleyball - Beach Volleyball, played with two-person teams, will be added to the Games program for the first time in 1996. There will be both men's and women's events.

Men's Basketball - Since basketball first made its appearance in 1936, the United States has won 92 games and lost only 2. Professionals from the NBA were allowed to compete for the first time in 1992.

Equestrian - Equestrian is one of the only two sports in which women compete against men. The jumping event was first included in the 1900 Games. The sport was opened to women in 1952.

Men's Gymnastics - Male gymnasts compete in 6 events; horizontal bar, parallel bars, vault, pommel horse, rings, and floor exercises. There are also an all-around event and a team event.

Men's Swimming - The backstroke event was first included in the Games of 1900. There are now two events; the 100 meters, which is two lengths of the pool, and the 200 meters, which is four lengths.

Men's Hurdles - The 110-meter hurdles event has been included in all Games since 1896. The United States has earned 48 medals. No other nation has won more than 5.


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