Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Olympics :History of the Modern Games : 2004 Athens
The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad was held in Athens, Greece and all IOC countries attended. There were10,625 athletes from 201 countries in competition. Kiribati and Timor Leste participated for the first time in the Olympic Games. Another first was the flame travelled around the world in a relay to former Olympic cities and other large cities, before returning to Greece. Some of the most modern sporting venues in the world at the time were built to host the 2004 Olympic Games. For the first time video coverage was served over the Internet. The BBC made their complete live coverage available to UK high-speed Internet customers for free; customers in the U.S. were only able to receive delayed excerpts. The International Olympic Committee forbade Olympic athletes, as well as coaches, support personnel and other officials, from setting up specialized weblogs and/or other websites for covering their personal perspective of the games. They were not allowed to post audio, video, or photos that they had taken. An exception was made if an athlete already has a personal website that was not set up specifically for the Games.
The Opening Ceremony culminated in the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron by 1996 Gold Medalist Windsurfer Nikolaos Kaklamanakis at the Ancient Olympia.
As part of the opening ceremony a topless Minoan priestess featured momentarily. In the US her breasts were pixilated digitally to avoid controversy. Also, lower frontal nudity of men dressed as ancient Greek statues was shown in such a way that the area below the waist was cut off by the bottom of the screen.
A new medal obverse was introduced at these Games, rectified the long lasting mistake of using a depiction of the Roman Coliseum rather than a Greek venue. The new design featured the Panathinaiko Stadium.
Athiná and Phévos (pronounced in Greek, Athina and Fivos) were the 2004 Olympic mascots inspired by ancient Greek terra-cotta figurines. The sister and brother were named after Athena, the goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and Phoebus, the god of light and music, respectively. The mascots were based on clay models kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. The ancient daidala, which were dolls that had religious connotations as well as being toys.
Concerns about terrorism elevated following the 11 September 2001 attacks meant Greece increased the budget for security. It was estimated the cost of the games was over € 10 billion which in the end proved a financial disaster. 24 athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
American swimmer Michael Phelps emerged as the face of the games and won eight medals. Swimmer Jenny Thompson became the most decorated U.S. Olympian, winning her 12th medal as a member of the 400-meter medley relay.
Americans dominated track and field events sweeping the top three spots in both the men's 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash, with Shawn Crawford and Jeremy Wariner each earning gold, respectively. In the 100-meter dash, Justin Gatlin took home the gold medal with a time of 9.85. He was followed closely by three other competitors also under 10 seconds, making the event the most competitive track event in Olympic history. Gatlin later failed a drug test for having too high a level of testosterone.
In the women's 400-meter hurdles, upset winner Fani Halkia delighted the home crowd.
Maurice Greene (US) finished third in his attempt to defend his 100 m title, and a silver as the anchor leg runner on the United States 4x100 m relay team.
Fiercely patriotic Maurice ran in Star spangled shoes.
U.S. gymnast Paul Hamm won gold in the all-around competition despite an early fall.
The Argentinian men's basketball team defeated Italy to win the gold medal, becoming the first non-U.S. team to win the title since professionals were allowed to play in 1992.
The marathon was held on the same route as the 1896 games, beginning in the site of the Battle of Marathon to the Panathinaiko Stadium in Athens. While leading in the men's marathon with less than 10 kilometres to go, Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima is attacked by Irish priest Cornelius Horan and dragged into the crowd. De Lima recovered to take bronze, and was later awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for sportsmanship.