washingtonpost.com's Bill Grant is in Athens, keeping his editor up late enough to actually watch NBC's telecast of the Olympics.
Carly Patterson becomes the first American woman to win the gymnastics all-around since Mary Lou Retton in 1984.

U.S. swimmer Aaron Peirsol reclaims a gold medal in the 200-meter backstroke after initially being disqualified for what an official called an illegal turn.

Liu Chunhong gives China its fourth gold medal in less than a week of weightlifting, breaking her own world record at 152 pounds.
"I don't even know what to say right now. I'm so happy and excited. You dream about this your whole life. Then you win the gold medal, and it's just amazing."
-- Carly Patterson.

"This was never a dream of mine when I was growing up. It was a bonus I was able to be here. It's disappointing, of course. We were hoping to get a medal. But the end of a dream? No. I am living my dream." -- Martina Navratilova, after she and partner Lisa Raymond were eliminated from the Olympic tennis tournament.

"Highlight of my life."
-- Ginny Georgantas, Greek softball player who got the only hit off U.S. ace Lisa Fernandez in a 7-0 loss to the dominant Americans.

Haile Gebrselassie is no longer the distance king. Training partner Kenenisa Bekele broke his records in the 10,000 and 5,000 meters over a nine-day span in May, and will now try to prevent Gebrselassie from becoming the first three-time winner of the Olympic 10K.

Michael Phelps won't be the favorite in the men's 100-meter butterfly. That would be fellow American Ian Crocker, the world-record holder.

NBC's Tape Delay Hamm-Strings Drama

By Bill Grant
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Web Posted: Thursday, Aug. 19, 2004; 7:08 p.m. EDT

ATHENS -- Paul Hamm put on a great show Wednesday. Thanks to NBC, settling into its role as the Greek God of Time, many of you didn't get to see it.

The network, which paid $793 million for U.S. television rights to the Athens Games, strung out Hamm's gold-winning performance like John D. Rockefeller doling out dimes. About 11:40 p.m. on a weeknight, the East Coast finally got to see what many are calling one of the greatest comebacks in the 108-year history of the Olympics. At that point, though, the competition had been over for a full eight hours.

There is plenty of hope among the gymnastics community that Hamm's dramatic victory would inspire a new generation of boys to become gymnasts, much as Mary Lou Retton did for girls when she became America's first female all-around champion in 1984 at the L.A. Games.

"Our challenge hasn't been getting young boys in the sport; it has been keeping them," Bob Colarossi, president of USA Gymnastics, told The Post's Liz Clarke. "At the entry level, probably 45 percent of the kids under 6 are boys. But what is there for them at the end of the rainbow? I think they got to see that [Wednesday night]."

For his part, Hamm seems up for the task. "I feel I've been a role model in the gymnastics world for a long time," he told a group of reporters Thursday. "I've had so many young kids come up to me and tell me how cool they think I am and how much they look up to me."

That may be, but NBC didn't do Colarossi or Hamm any favors by sitting on what will become one of signature moments of these Games until most American 6-year-olds -- or even 10-year-olds -- were long since tucked in for the night.

Fun Has Its Price
The price tag for all this fun is climbing again. A Greek official said Thursday that costs for the Games are expected to top $8.5 billion, primarily because of the massive security and overruns in the final push to get things done on time. That's up from the original $5.6 billion projection and a revised figure of $7.2 billion right before the Games. Some analysts, though, predict the final price tag could climb to $12.5 billion and burden Greek taxpayers for at least a decade.

Rappin' for Redgrave
Andrew Visser of Falls Church has accepted our Andy Roddick Rap Challenge and has penned this verse to five-time gold medalist Steven Redgrave, Great Britain's most decorated rower, who is not defending his title in Athens after retiring last year:

This here's an ode to my man Redgrave,
any boat he's in has a mighty bow wave.
When he's pulling the oars competition beware,
They'd all just stand and stare.
But he's not in team GB this ye'ar.
He'll just be on the banks to watch as they're
overtaken by a much slower crew
Guy's who are all much fatter than you.

Olympic gold in LA, Seoul, Barcelona and At'lan'ta
"Steven Redgrave" was the rowing mantra.
He set a record that couldn't be beat,
'till my man came back for an amazing feat.
He took the fifth in Sydney, the land down under,
Forcin' stop and wonder;
How long a record like that will hold on?
That's just what I'm thinkin' 'bout that guy

Given that Andrew's rap is the first we've received, it's looking like he's got a real good shot for the podium. 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.

Get a Real Job, Janet
Three-time gold medalist Janet Evans has a new gig, writing a column on the Olympics for a competing Website. (Hint: It's the one that starts with a Y.) So far, Evans hasn't been reluctant to poke a jab or two at her former colleagues, particularly Brendan Hansen (for his boorish behavior on the podium) and Aaron Peirsol (for accusing Japan's Kosuke Kitajima of cheating).

From the E-mail Bag
From David E. Ortman of Seattle: "Can you shed some light on how Paul Hamm can splat on the vault, nearly take out the judging table and still  get 9.137 points? What do you have to do in gymnastics to get, say, a 4.012?" Let's get this straight, David. You're asking us to explain how gymnastics is judged? You might as well be asking us to explain how the Miss America pageant is all about scholarships.

From Audria M. Carroll of Boyce, Va.: "I'm anything but a prude, but I can't get over how small the bottoms of the swimsuits are that the women are wearing in beach volleyball. It seems to me in years past, the suits were similar to the bottoms worn currently by the women in track. To me it calls in to question exactly what we're supposed to be watching: the unquestionable athletic achievement of these women athletes or their bottoms bouncing across the screen?"

From Andrew Leyden of Chesapeake Beach: "Why is it when Americans chant "USA-USA-USA" we're a bunch of flag-waving zealots, but when Greeks chant "Hel-i-os" that's just part of their "wonderful spirit and support?"

E-mail Us
We'd like to hear what you are thinking about the Olympics, and we'll even publish the few that don't make us blush, gag or speed-dial our lawyers. Keep 'em clean and keep 'em short and remember to put "Olympics" in the subject line.

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

© 2004 The Washington Post Company

"To win an Olympic medal has always been my goal," says Paul Hamm. "To do it like that, having to come back from something like that, just makes it more special to me." (Amy Sancetta -- AP)

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