Michael Johnson's sweep of the 200 and 400 meters at the Olympics, never previously accomplished by a man in the same Summer Games, was voted the top sports story of the year in an Associated Press poll released Thursday.
Johnson's feat, capped by a record-shattering 19.32-second clocking in the 200, narrowly won story-of-the-year honors over the story of the event where it happened and the problems at that event, the Centennial Summer Games at Atlanta.
The games produced performances and memories worthy of gold medals--Johnson's rocket speed, Kerri Strug's winning vault on an injured ankle, Muhammad Ali's quaking hand as he lighted the Olympic flame. But the Games also had to deal with monumental problems, notably the pipe bomb that exploded in Centennial Olympic Park, killing one person, leading to the death of another, and injuring 111.
Third in the voting was the saga of golfer Tiger Woods, who won a record third consecutive U.S. Amateur championship, then passed up his final two years at Stanford to turn pro and win two of the first seven PGA Tour tournaments he entered.
Evander Holyfield's victory over Mike Tyson for the World Boxing Assn. heavyweight championship was fourth, one place ahead of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls' record 72 regular-season games and their fourth NBA title in six seasons.
Strug's vault that helped a gold-medal performance for the U.S. women's gymnastics team was sixth; the overall strong showing of American women's team at the Summer Games was eighth and Carl Lewis' victory in the long jump for a record-tying ninth gold medal was 10th.
There was not a football story among the top 10.
Michael York and Mark Parrish scored two goals apiece, and Brian Boucher made 39 saves as the United States opened the World Junior Hockey Championships with a 4-0 victory over Switzerland at Geneva.
Canada, looking for a record fifth consecutive title, opens play today against Germany.
Names in the News
Clayton Tonnemaker, an All-America lineman at the University of Minnesota, who played for the Green Bay Packers, died in St. Paul of complications after heart and lung surgery. He was 68.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Tonnemaker started at center and linebacker for the Gophers from 1946-49.
He joined Green Bay as a first-round draft pick in 1950 and also played in 1953-54.
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1996 Story of the Year Voting
Michael Johnson wins 200-400 (16): 606
Olympics/problems (40): 587
Tiger Woods (7): 526
Evander Holyfield (5): 454
Bulls-Jordan (4): 420
Kerri Strug (10): 397
Yankees win World Series (9): 373
Olympic women's gold (4): 223
Baseball labor (2): 204
Carl Lewis (0): 155
Cowboys-drug charges (0): 118
Roberto Alomar (1): 118
Greg Norman (0): 109
12-year-old Jeff Maier (1): 104
Amy Van Dyken (0): 103
Don Shula retires (0): 95
Colorado Avalanche (0): 82
John McSherry dies (0): 78
Cigar (0): 76
Lou Holtz retires (0): 62
Brett Butler (0): 56
Browns-Oilers move (0): 46
U.S. 500-Indy 500 rivalry (0): 45
Record home run year (0): 29
Tom Lasorda retires (0): 28
Eddie Murray 500th home run (0): 26
WNBA debuts (0): 25
Marge Schott (0): 24
Steffi Graf (0): 24
Brett Favre (0): 23
MLS debuts (0): 22
Paul Molitor (0): 22
Albert Belle leaves Indians (0): 20
Princeton beats UCLA (0): 19
NBA drafts teenagers (0): 17
Denver Broncos clinch (1): 15
Stadiums-franchise moves (0): 13
Nebraska beats Florida (0): 13
Boston College gambling (0): 13
Winston Cup (0): 13
Dave Stevens (catcher-no legs) (1): 10
Kirby Puckett retires (0): 9
Kentucky wins NCAA Tourn. (0): 8
Karrie Webb (0): 3
College football arrests (0): 2
Alex Rodriguez (1): 1
Chris Boniol FG record (0): 1
Michelle Smith's swimming (0): 1
(First-place votes in parentheses)