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Greek to Me

Taking a Pass On Education

Monday, August 16, 2004; Page D12

As the U.S. women's soccer team makes its Olympic trek -- from training camp in California to warmup matches in the United States to Athens, Crete and now the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki -- defender Kate Markgraf has lugged around a copy of Thucydides's "History of the Peloponnesian War." It is Markgraf's effort to bring some culture to the competition. It hasn't quite worked.

"I'm like, 'Tell me who won, who lost, and was it necessary for the war or not,' " midfielder Shannon Boxx said.

Members of the U.S. women's soccer team were not very enthused about captain Julie Foudy's suggestion they study up on Greek culture. (Joel Richardson - Post File Photo)

_____ Day Three _____
The U.S. men's basketball team loses for first time since 1988.
Discuss the U.S. loss to Puerto Rico.
Seven golds is the best Michael Phelps can do, as the United States takes bronze in the 4x100-meter freestyle relay.
The U.S. swim team endures some choppy waters Sunday.
U.S. women's gymnastics team stumbles but survives Sunday.
Venus Williams and Andy Roddick both win their opening matches.
Manu Ginobili's buzzer-beater saves Argentina.
The U.S. Women's soccer team takes a pass on history assignment.
Alpha and Omega: Summing up Day 3 in Athens.
Suspended Greek sprinters say they would protest any decision by the IOC to ban them.
Iranian Judo champion is disqualified for a weight violation after refusing to compete against an Israeli athlete.

_____ More From The Post _____
Michael Wilbon: The end of an era for U.S. men's basketball.
Sally Jenkins: The Iraqi soccer team embodies the Olympic ideal.
Mike Wise: Some U.S. athletes refuse to lose gracefully.
So far, attendance has been far below expectations.

_____ On Our Site _____
Athens Snippets: Serving up mercy for us all.

_____ Sunday's Results _____
Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay
Men's 100 Breaststroke
Women's 100 Butterfly
Women's 400 Freestyle

Women's road race

Women's Individual Epee

Men's 66kg
Women's 52kg

Men's 56kg
Women's 53kg

Women's 10-meter Air Pistol
Men's Trap

_____ Photos _____
Day 3
Day 2
Opening Ceremonies

_____ Live Online _____
The Chat House from Athens with Michael Wilbon, 11 a.m. Monday.
Submit questions.
Triple jumper Tiombe Hurd will take questions at 2 p.m. Monday.
Submit questions.

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Captain Julie Foudy initially suggested that each U.S. team member research a different era of Greek history -- and report back to the team. The response? Rolled eyes. "I haven't done homework in like 10 years," midfielder Kristine Lilly said.

With the final not until Aug. 26, there's still time for Markgraf, Foudy and a few others, such as midfielder Aly Wagner, to overcome the skepticism. Winning the gold, however, might be easier.

"I think you should ask [Foudy] what, really, she has discovered, because I haven't seen her really reading," Lilly said. "She's pushing it, but she's not doing any of it."

-- Barry Svrluga

A Good Trade

After four days of living in the athletes' village, U.S. tennis player Andy Roddick has gotten the hang of trading pins and amassed quite a collection by running up to anyone wearing a jacket with the name of an obscure country on it and asking if they want to swap. "It's a good way to meet girls," Roddick cracked yesterday.

Among the athletes in the stands for Roddick's first-round match against Brazil's Flavio Saretta yesterday was Rulon Gardner, the massive Greco-Roman wrestler from Wyoming who pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the Sydney Games in toppling Russian champion Aleksandr Karelin to win super heavyweight gold. After Roddick's 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) victory, Gardner wrapped his fellow American in a giant bear hug and hoisted him in the air.

Greece Is Smokin' . . .

It should be no surprise the Greeks have an Olympic cauldron in the shape of a cigarette.

Studies suggest 40 to 45 percent of Greeks smoke, and among Greeks age 25 to 34, that numbers rises to 60 percent. A 2003 European Commission study noted that Greece is "by far the country with the heaviest" consumption, with an average of 23.38 cigarettes per day. The No. 2 spot was Belgium, at an average of 18.41 cigarettes a day.

And among heavy smoking European countries, Greece is the only one in which the percentage of smokers has increased since 1995.

There is, however, no truth to the rumor that the cauldron will be stubbed out in a giant ashtray during Closing Ceremonies.

-- Tracee Hamilton

. . . And So Unsafe!

Even amid incomparable beauty, journalists can always find fault with something. Take the American reporter griping about the slippery steps leading up to the Parthenon. "They're all marble!" she ranted.

-- Liz Clarke

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