2004 OLYMPICS

Bill Grant, who can't rap a lick, is in Athens for washingtonpost.com.
Michael Phelps wins gold in the 200-meter butterfly with an Olympic-record time of 1:54.04. He adds another in the 800-meter freestyle relay.

Venus Williams beat Maja Matevzic of Slovenia 6-0, 6-0 -- the first shutout for a man or woman since tennis returned to the Olympics as a medal sport in 1988.

U.S. sprinter Torri Edwards is knocked out of the Olympics when an arbitration panel upholds her two-year drug suspension. Considered a medal contender in the 100 and 200 meters, her spots will go to Gail Devers and LaShaunte'a Moore, respectively.
"We made small mistakes. Small mistakes are to be paid for. And we paid."
-- Bela Karolyi, husband of U.S. gymnastics coordinator Martha Karolyi, on the silver medal won by the gold-medal favored American women.

"It was everything. This guy won Wimbledon and the Australian Open and now you are the player who beats him. Unbelievable."
-- Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych, who upset top-seeded Roger Federer.

With a team silver in hand, defending world all-around gymnastics champ Paul Hamm goes for his first individual medal Wednesday.

The U.S. shot put team is featured in first athletic event at the Olympic Stadium in Olympia since 393 A.D.


What Worked for Homer Won't for Iverson

By Bill Grant
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Web Posted: Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2004; 9:27 p.m. EDT

ATHENS -- So, whose bright idea was it to put laurel wreaths on the heads of medalists? This may have been a happening look in ancient Greece, but modern men (and women) just weren't meant to wear a crown of wilting leaves on their heads.

Just imagine, say, Allen Iverson -- more accustomed to wearing a do-rag, tatts and braids -- sporting sprouts. This is not a pretty picture. (Not that we have to lose much sleep over the prospect of the men's basketball team actually winning a medal.)

Swimmer Aaron Peirsol came close to pulling this look off, but even he looked like a bit player in a local dinner theater production of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum." In our mind, fellow swimmer Michael Phelps had the right idea, taking the silly thing off after his spectacular win in the 200-meter butterfly Tuesday.

What do you think? As you watch these medal ceremonies, e-mail us with a particularly bad wreath moment. Perhaps it's a Greco-Roman wrestler or a heavyweight weightlifter.

One final thought: Why did organizers stop at just wreaths? Why not have them don togas and sandals too? Oh wait, USA Today already did that.

Singing a Song for You
Vince Spadea keeps his U.S. tennis teammates in good spirits with his raps, one of which he penned on Andy Roddick's chances for winning gold:

Roddick is the hottest product
After I played him, I needed an anti-biotic
He's not robotic
But he's patriotic
I had a thought in my head, he hit a serve and I forgot it
Roddick
If he's in a tournament, you boycott it

Not bad, Vince. But we're betting we have some budding Eminems out there who can do even better. Got a rap or verse about a favorite Olympian? Send it to us and we'll publish it providing it doesn't get us sued, jailed or threatened with bodily harm.

Jumping In With Both Feet
Forget the diamonds, flowers or candy. How's this for a way to express your undying love? It seems a man who authorities say wanted to send "a loving message to his wife" jumped into the diving pool during Monday night's synchronized event. As a result, the security budget for these Games, already a record, is going up a few more Euros as organizers say they will increase the number of uniformed security guards ringing all of the Games' fields, pools and courts. The unidentified man ran from the stands and jumped into the pool during a break in last night's program. He was plucked from the water and turned over to police. No one was injured.

Church Opens Up for the Well-Covered Up
Greece's deeply insular Orthodox Church is reaching out to Olympic visitors. Dressed in black cassocks and pipe hats, clergy at 20 area churches are keeping church doors and religious monuments open through the end of the Games, even on holidays. One caveat: Modest dress is required. A sign outside the main Cathedral reads: "Keep body covered. No shorts allowed."

New Heights
Gold medalist pole vaulter Stacy Dragila is accustomed to great heights, but nothing like the view she enjoyed Tuesday on her flight to Athens from Crete, where the U.S. track and field team held pre-Olympic training. The American star had a seat in the cockpit, right behind the pilot and co-pilot for the 45-minute trip.

As always, we want to thank our colleagues at Reuters, the Associated Press and the U.S. Tennis Association for contributing to today's report.

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

Maybe the ancient Greeks could get away with laurel wreaths but it's not a good look for Mariel Zagunis and Sada Jacobson, top, Mikhail Nestruev and Svetlana Khorkina. (AP, Reuters photos)

You Write
The Caption
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washingtonpost.com's 2004 Athens Olympics You Write the Caption contest has ended.

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Thanks to all who submitted entries!