=== 2000 Summer Games come to a close in Australia ===
Sydney, Australia (Sports Network) - The 2000 Summer Olympics came to a close
Sunday night with the tradition of the sparkle of the closing ceremonies.
International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared that
the Sydney Olympics were the "best games ever," as there were many dramatic
victories, but there were also several doping embarrassments that surrounded
these Summer Games.
Australia hosted the 27th Olympiad with class and style, as the Olympic
Stadium was filled with more than 100,000 fans each night of the track and
Fans packed the stadium again Sunday night, many flashing flashlights and
chanting "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" and doing the wave.
The ceremony also featured the Men at Work song "Land Down Under." There
two Royal Air Force f-111s that flew over the stadium, fireworks artists from
five continents, 7,000 performers and a parade of famous Australians ranging
from model Elle MacPherson, golfer Greg Norman and Crocodile Dundee
himself...Paul Hogan. The rock groups INXS and Midnight Oil also performed.
The ceremony ended with the unofficial national anthem, "Waltzing Matilda."
There was also an extreme pyrotechnics show along the Sydney Harbor.
The Summer Games in Sydney featured several unexpected dramatics. U.S.
Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner won the gold medal by defeating Russian
Kareline, who was unbeaten for 13 years and didn't allow a point for ten.
Gardner's peers elected him to serve as U.S. flagbearer for the closing
ceremonies. The American softball team rallied for gold medal after losing a
112-game winning streak and dropping three straight in the tournament. The
U.S. men's basketball team was almost beaten, squeaking past Lithuania 85-83
in the semifinals.
The U.S. track and field team again demonstrated why they are the number-one
ranked squad in the world. Team USA earned a total of 20 medals in track and
field competition at the Sydney Olympic Games...eight more than the next-best
nation, the Russian Federation with 12. Ethiopia was third in the medal tally
with eight. Team USA?s 10 golds more than doubled the second-best totals of
Poland and Ethiopia, which had four each. The Russian Federation won three
golds. The American baseball team dethroned two-time defending gold medalists
The games closed with Marion Jones getting her five medals, although they were
not all gold (3 bronze).
It was an Olympics of many firsts, especially for women's competition.
Taekwondo, trampoline and synchronized diving made their debuts in
polo and women's weightlifting.
The 2000 Summer Games also featured domination in the pool by the United
States. The Americans won 33 swimming medals, 14 of them gold, as Jenny
Thompson led the charge. However, nobody will soon forget "The Thorpedo" Ian
Thorpe of Australia, Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband both of the
Netherlands. American Lenny Krayzelburg had three gold medals from three
However, the Summer Games were tainted by several allegations of doping and
cheating. Five medals were taken away because of positive drug tests,
including a gold medal by Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan. She took cold
medicine prescribed by her doctor, but the medicine turned out to be banned.
American shotputter CJ Hunter, the husband of Jones, had pulled out of the
Games injured but tested positive for steroids.
It was an emotional time for many Australians as Cathy Freeman became the
first Aborigine to win a gold medal at the Olympics, taking the 400-meter race
in front of a raucous crowd of 112,000.
Another heart-warming moment came in the 100-meter freestyle swim event. Eric
Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam solo and got a standing ovation just for
finishing the race.
It was also a tough emotional ride for Samaranch at the Summer Games. His wife
died hours before the opening ceremony and he went back to Spain to bury,
returning a day later.
With Australia in the rear-view mirror, the world will look ahead to Athens,
Greece as they host the 2004 Summer Games. The 2002 Winter Olympics will be
Salt Lake City, Utah.
10/01 07:38:17 ET