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COLUMNISTS

Mon, August 30, 2004

Athens was unforgettable


As the Games of the 28th Olympiad end and the world returns to its regular TV schedule, the following is a personal list of the most-memorable 28 moments of the last 17 days:

28. The emotional post-race plea by runner Diane Cummins for Canadians to embrace, not criticize, Olympians for their efforts, regardless of outcome.

27. The spectacular finish of the men's coxless fours final and the grace in which the Canadian rowers handled the loss by .08 of a second.

26. The emotional breakdown of British rowing legend Matthew Pinsent on the podium after winning his fourth-gold medal at consecutive Olympics in the aforementioned race.

25. The corruption that cost Kyle Shewfelt a bronze medal and the class he exhibited throughout the Canadian protest.

24. Second-place finisher Markus Rogan insisting he didn't want to win the gold due to the disqualification of his friend Aaron Peirsol in the 200m backstroke. A judge's error saw Peirsol reinstated minutes later.

23. Sitting with Richard and Fran Stewart and watching their tears of pride as they watched their three sons make history by rowing the Australian eights to a heat win and eventual medal.

22. Former Olympic champion Antal Kovacs and favourite Kosei Inoue stopping in the heat of their judo match so Kovacs could carefully find and re-insert his contact lens.

21. The look of disgust on an Olympic table tennis players' face when asked how he felt his "ping pong" match went.

20. The U.S./Greek basketball game in which 12,000 singing, flag-waving fans almost helped their team pull off what would have been the biggest upset in Olympic basketball history.

19. The Argentinians sending the American hoopsters home without gold.

18. Seeing the Brazilian beach volleyball babes hug after winning a point.

17. The power of walking into Panathinaiko Stadium, site of the first modern-day Olympic Games, and seeing the Acropolis from atop the marble seating.

16. The pool deck and crowd celebration after Greece won its first gold of the games in men's synchro diving.

15. Seeing a Patriot missile battery nestled in the midst of the mountains behind the baseball park's centre-field wall.

14. The phrases, "Do you have any coins or metal objects in your pockets?" or "Do you have any pins?"

13. Disqualified rower Dave Calder on the verge of tears, realizing his medal dreams were all but dashed after crossing into the South African's lane.

12. Seeing the Argentinian beach volleyball babes hug after winning a point.

11. Finding out the figure on the front of the Olympic medals is Greek goddess Nike and wondering how Phil Knight pulled that off when Adidas is the Games' major sponsor.

10. The sheer ignorance of fans booing and holding up the start of the 200m race that Greek sprinter Kostas Kenteris would have run in if he wasn't a disgraced drug cheat.

9. The constant charm, patience and hospitality of the local volunteers who made the games the success it was.

8. Seeing the Swedish beach volleyball babes hug after winning a point. Oh, and the courtside cheerleaders.

7. Lights out and Olympic rings on fire in the water at the opening ceremony.

6. Seeing Dutch trampolinist Andrea Lenders stop in the middle of her final routine and forego medal chances to yell at her coach.

5. Mirroring the sentiments of several gymnastics federations, fans finally said they'd had enough of the corrupt judging by staging a stirring eight-minute protest after Alexei Nemov's brilliant high bar routine was scored poorly. The judges responded by upping the marks and judging will soon be changed forever.

4. Seeing the eyes of 4-ft.-6, 66-lb. Olympic diver Bryan Nickson widen when the 14-year-old Malaysian pointed out his hero, Alexandre Despatie.

3. The look of pure shock and elation on Despatie's face when he realized he'd won silver in the 3m springboard.

2. The shock and horror of seeing marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima have his chances of certain gold dashed by a deranged fan who pushed the Brazilian into the crowd.

1. Perdita. Poor Perdita.


Does Canada's low-medal haul in Athens bother you?
Yes, it depresses me
No, it's just sports
I'm disappointed, but not worried
We'll get 'em in Turin
Don't care

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