Sports Headlines from the Summer Olympics
By The Source
Aug 13, 2004
The story of the birth of the Olympics will be told through music, dance and pageantry with the Opening Ceremony of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens this evening (1:45 pm et). More than 77,000 spectators are expected inside the Olympic Stadium. The Opening Ceremony has traditionally drawn the largest audience, not only in person, but also of any broadcast for the Summer Games. The program will have 4,000 people taking part in it and the presentation will last for 3 1/2 hours. From the start of the presentation, there will be two constant recurring themes, one of a human heartbeat and the other of running. The heartbeat signifies the Games on a human scale, while the running is to remember that the event was the first and the only Olympic sport in the first 13 ancient Olympiads. A total of 202 national Olympic committees will enter the stadium with the Greek flag appearing first and the country's delegation coming in last. Women's basketball player Dawn Staley will lead in the U.S delegation and carry the American flag.
TRACK & FIELD
Greek track athletes Kostas Kenteris and Ekaterini Thanou were both injured on Thursday night in a motorcycle accident, but there are allegations they may have tried to dodge a doping test. Kenteris is the reigning 200-meter sprint Olympic champion and was a strong favorite to possibly light the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony Friday night. Thanou is the 100-meter silver medalist from the Sydney Games. Earlier Thursday, a doping representative from the International Olympic Committee went to the Olympic village to try and administer a drug test to both athletes, but they were not found. Both athletes are nursing injuries at a hospital. An investigation has been set up by the IOC and a Disciplinary Commission's hearing was postponed from Friday afternoon until Monday due to the injuries of Kenteris and Thanou. After the hearing, the Disciplinary Commission will be responsible for presenting a report and recommendations to the IOC Executive Board, the body which has the authority to take a decision on such cases. Greece's Olympic Committee called an emergency board meeting for Saturday to discuss the case and there is growing speculation that Kenteris may pull out of the Olympics. Should an athlete refuse to take a test, then it is considered a positive result. That can lead to a two-year suspension.
as of 5 a.m. (et)
The city of Athens, Greece is on holiday today as the XXVIII Summer Olympiad gets underway with the lighting of the Olympic Flame. The grand spectacle of the Opening Ceremony takes place tonight inside the Olympic Stadium before more than 77,000 spectators, dignitaries and media members. The 3 1/2 hour program have 4,000 people taking part and the presentation will last for 3 1/2 hours. From the start of the presentation, there will be two constant recurring themes, one of a human heartbeat and the other of running. The heartbeat signifies the Games on a human scale, while the running is to remember that the event was the first and the only Olympic sport in the first 13 ancient Olympiads. Athens Olympic Committee President Gianna Angelopooulos-Daskalski promises the show will be one to remember for the ages. According to Dimitris Papaioannou, the concept creator and artistic director for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Friday night's presentation will be centered on the art and history of Greece, describing the country's history through a contemporary point of view. Details of the program are being kept secret, including THE person who will light the official Olympic Flame.
As the American contingent enters the stadium, it will be two-time Olympic gold medalist Dawn Staley that leads the USA delegation. Staley was chosen by fellow American sport captains as flag bearer. Staley, who resides in Philadelphia, PA, is currently the head women's basketball coach at Temple University. She was a member of the 1996 and 2000 Olympic winning teams and a three-time gold medalist in the World Championships. Staley is also playing for the WNBA's Charlotte Sting.
On the Canadian side, Judo star Nicolas Gill will carry his country's flag into the stadium. The 32-year-old Gill is Canada's most successful judoka of all time, winning a bronze medal in Barcelona and a silver in the 2000 games in Sydney. Gill also owns three world championships, three Pan American medals, as well as 10 national titles. This will be Gill's fourth Olympics.
Another notable flag bearer will be sprinter Ato Boldon of Trinidad & Tobago. This will be Boldon's third Olympics. He has won four medals - one silver and three bronze and is a close friend of American speedster Maurice Greene.
The first major upset of the Olympics occurred Thursday night, as Iraq stunned Portugal, 4-2 in Group D tournament action. Iraq had not competed in the Olympic soccer tournament since 1988 and its qualification was viewed as a success. The Iraqis fell behind 1-0, but rallied with two strikes in a 13 minute span. However, Portugal, the 2004 Euro Cup runner up, evened the match right before halftime. Iraq took advantage of a controversial red card against forward Boa Morte that sent the Portuguese player off at the 51st minute. Five minutes later, Iraq scored the game winner on a beautiful goal by Younis Mahmoud. Salih Sadir sealed the victory for the Iraqis with an extra goal. In other action, Costa Rica and Morocco played to a scoreless draw, Paraguay won a slugfest against Japan, 4-3, while Ghana and Italy also played to a tie, 2-2.
The 64-player tennis draw for the men and women was announced on Thursday, with play beginning Saturday, August 14th. Switzerland's Roger Federer, the world's #1 ranked player and top seed in Athens, will take on Russian Nikolay Davydenko in a first-round match. Federer, who had his 23-match winning streak recently stopped in Cincinnati, brings a 57-5 match record into the Olympic Games. American Andy Roddick, seeded second, will meet Brazil's Flavio Saretta. Roddick is 58-11 this year, but has lost to Federer in both the Wimbledon and Masters Series in Toronto finals. Other Americans in the field include, Taylor Dent, who will take on sixth seed David Nalbandian of Argentina, Vincent Spadea will play Austria's Jurgen Melzer and Mardy Fish battles Sweden's Jonas Bjorkman.
On the women's side, top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium returns from viral infection to meet Barbora Strycova in a first-round match. Amelie Mauresmo of France, seeded second, will take on Conchita Martinez of Spain. Sixth seeded Venus Williams, the highest American seeded player, will take on Melinda Czink of Hungary. In other American action, Chanda Rubin, the 16th seed, will meet Samantha Stosur of Australia. Stosur was a late addition to the field after Serena Williams withdrew because of an injury. Elsewhere, unseeded American Lisa Raymond battles Slovakia's Lubomira Kurhajcova.
The first day of Archery took place on Thursday and already two world records were set. Korea's Sung Hyun Park set a world record in 72-arrow competition during the ranking round of the women's competition. Her counterpart on the men's side, Dong Hyun Im, did the same thing later in the day with a score of 687. Park's score of 682 points bested the previous record of 679, set by Italian Natalia Valeeva in May, and helped the Korean women break their own 216-arrow record. The combined score of Park and teammates Sung Jin Lee and Mi Jin Yun was 2030 -- 36 points higher Korea's gold medal score at the 2000 Sydney Games. The American women struggled in the ranking round, as Jennifer Nichols finished 19th, Stephanie Arnold and Janet Dykman, a three-time Olympian, were 36th and 44th, respectively. On the men's side, four-time Olympian Butch Johnson was the top American finisher at 16, while Vic Wunderle, a 2000 Olympian for the U.S., came in 43rd place and John Magera was 47th. The total U.S. men's score was 1936, placing them in 11th place for the team round on August 21.
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