Saturday, August 11, 2012
Olympics: History of the Modern Games: 2000 Sydney
Sydney, played host to the 2000 Summer Olympic Games which had 10,651 athletes competing in 300 events. A record 199 IOC nations took part with only Afghanistan suspended due to the Taliban regime's prohibition against practicing any kind of sports. The event was officially opened by Governor General Sir William Deane.
The Opening Ceremony had a cast of 12,687 people who took part in the ceremony. It was described by IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch as the most beautiful ceremony the world has ever seen. In 2002, the Auditor-General of New South Wales reported that the Sydney Games cost A$6.6 billion.
Cathy Freeman ignited the cauldron around her feet in a circle of fire. The planned spectacular climax to the ceremony was delayed by the technical glitch of a computer switch that malfunctioned, causing the sequence to shut down by giving a false reading. This meant that the Olympic flame was suspended in mid-air for about four minutes, rather than immediately rising up a water-covered ramp to the top of the stadium.
She won the 400 metre final ahead of Lorraine Graham of Jamaica and Katharine Merry of Great Britain. Freeman's win made her the first competitor in Olympic Games history to light the Olympic Flame and then go on to win a Gold Medal.
The Olympic Village was adjoining the Sydney Olympic Park and accommodated 10 200 competitors and 5 100 delegation officials at the time of the Olympic Games.
Olly, Syd and Millie were the official mascots of the Sydney Olympics. Olly (Olympics) was a kookaburra, representing the Olympic spirit of generosity. Syd (Sydney) a platypus, represented the environment and energy of the people of Australia. Millie (millennium) was an echidna representing the historic date.
Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat became the unofficial mascot of the games and represented a protest over the commercialization of Olympic mascots.
The Triathlon made its Olympic debut. Brigitte McMahon (Switzerland) swam, cycled and ran to the first gold medal in the sport, beating the favoured home athletes such as Michelie Jones who won silver. McMahon only passed Jones in sight of the finish line.
Maurice Green sported the famous gold shoes when he retained the 400m gold. His shoes were made by Nike and 3M with reflective material made from 24 karat gold. Nike made nine pairs of gold shoes for the supreme athlete.
Marathon runners wore microchips in their shoes for the first time.
Ian Thorpe set a new world record in the 400 m freestyle final before competing in exciting 4 x 100 m freestyle final. Swimming the last leg, Thorpe passed the leading Americans and arrived in a new world record time, two tenths of a second ahead of the Americans.
Controversy erupted at the Women's Gymnastics All-Around final, when gymnast after gymnast fell on the vault. Some gymnasts were physically injured, and all were shaken, but nothing was done to try to discover the reason most gymnasts were having severe problems. Finally, in the middle of the second round, it was determined that the vault horse had been set 5 cm too low – a small amount, possibly, but to these world-class athletes, enough of a difference to have thrown off their impeccable timing to the extent that true performance was impossible. This situation led directly to the elimination of Svetlana Khorkina from consideration as the top all-around gymnast.