Kenya's boycotts of the Games of '76 and '80 meant the runner Henry Rono never had the chance to compete for an Olympic medal.
Diane Modahl travels to Alburquerque to meet Rono and hears how he turned to drink after politics destroyed his Olympic dreams. Diane discusses the Kenyans struggle with alcoholism and then the British 800 metres star persuades her childhood hero to take a run with her.
Communist countries dominated track and field events during the 1970s and 80s.
The GDR's Sigrun Wodars ran against Britain's Diane Modahl in the final of the 800m at the Seoul Games. The East German took gold.
Two years later, shortly before reunification, the GDR allowed the pair to train together. Their conversations were monitored.
Diane travels to Germany for Radio 4 and meets Sigrun to talk freely in a way that wasn't possible just 14 years ago.
In 1992, David Grindley won a bronze as part of Britain's 4x400m relay team in Barcelona.
He was just 19 and a glittering career lay ahead of him. A year later, injury shattered his dreams.
Diane Modahl meets David and learns of his anger with the sporting authorities who turned their back on him.
carried the Iraqi flag at the Opening Ceremony in Atlanta in 1996.
But to the dismay of Uday Hussein, then head of Iraqi sport, the 12 times national weightlifting champion defected.
Back in Iraq he was immediately sentenced to death.
Diane Modahl tells how his family was rounded up and imprisoned in the basement of the Olympic Committee offices in Baghdad.
Raed was told they'd be killed if he didn't return.
"I tell them I don't care.
Because if I say I care, then they'd kill all of them".
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The youngest competitor at the Sydney Games was a 12-year-old girl from Bahrain, Fatima Gerashi.
She'd never entered a swimming competition before and trained for just a month.
Diane travels to the Middle East to meet the Gerashi family and hears how Fatima gained her wildcard entry to the Games.