10. An unknown takes the gold in Seoul
The South American country of Suriname was pretty much unknown as far as the Olympics go, as no athlete from that small country had ever won a medal at the Games. In 1988, Anthony Nesty was one of the best swimmers in the world in the 100m butterfly, and he was out to capture his country’s first medal.
Nesty appeared in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, finishing twenty-first in the event. He would go on to train in Florida for the 1988 Olympics, and came in to the Games fresh off a gold medal in the 100m butterfly in the Pan-American Games in 1987. In order to win the gold in Seoul, he would have to beat favorite, American Matt Biondi.
The field in the 100m butterfly was stacked with talent, as Biondi, Australian Jon Sieben, and German Michael Gross were all phenomenal in the event. In the end, it was Nesty who took the gold, beating Biondi by an incredible 0.01 seconds. It was an improbable win, and gave Suriname its first Olympic medal. With the win, Nesty became only the second black athlete to win a gold medal in a swimming event (Enith Brigitha, 1976).
Nesty’s win gave Suriname its first medal as a country, and after winning the bronze in the 100m butterfly in Barcelona in 1992, Nesty still owns the country’s only Olympic medals.
Next: 9. 1960: Barefoot runner wins marathon