2004 OLYMPICS

washingtonpost.com's Bill Grant takes your questions at noon EDT Thursday.
Rulon Gardner wins his bronze medal wrestling match, then tearfully unties his shoes and leaves them in the ring -- the traditional sign of retirement.

Israeli windsurfer Gal Fridman wins sailing's Mistral class, his nation's first gold.

U.S. middleweight Andre Dirrell narrowly beats Cuba's Yordani Despaigne to advance to the semifinals.

Cuba wins the gold for the third time in the four Games that have included baseball.

Fani Halkia of Greece wins gold in the 400-meter hurdles.

Russia's Olga Kuzenkova wins the hammer throw with an Olympic record toss.

"Every Olympics we dream of hearing the anthem and seeing the flag. It's the top. I was feeling very proud and so happy to hear the people singing it. I sang as strong as I could, but nobody heard it because everybody was screaming."
-- Fridman

"I came back and won a medal. Even though it's bronze, I have no regrets because I gave 100 percent in every match. I didn't leave anything on the mat."
-- Gardner

"It was going great, and then I don't know. I just went down. I thought I was in control until I hit that hurdle. I got myself together, but the last one I hit and went down. I'm fairly disappointed, but it happens. I'll be watching the final. There's nothing I can do."
-- Allen Johnson, after falling in the second round of the 110-meter hurdles.

"I don't think anybody's paying attention. The Americans aren't playing -- it's no fun."
-- Mets outfielder Mike Cameron, asked if he was following Olympic baseball.

"I'll miss being here with these players. And learning from them, and growing and experiencing the greatest of times and the worst of times."
-- Mia Hamm on the eve of her last game for the U.S. women's soccer team

"We're like an orchestra and no one has any particular solos. We just make very good music."
-- Lisa Leslie of the U.S. women's basketball team

The core of the U.S. women's soccer team for the past 10 years -- Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett and Kristine Lilly -- wrap up their final major international tournament together by playing for gold against Brazil.

Justin Gatlin, the 100-meter sprint champion, will try to win the 200, a sweep last accomplished by Carl Lewis in 1984. Other finals from Olympic Stadium are the men's 400 hurdles and long jump.

The men's basketball quarterfinals are loaded with good matchups: The Americans vs. Pau Gasol and undefeated Spain; undefeated Lithuania vs. Yao Ming-led China; the hometown Greeks vs. Manu Ginobili and Argentina; and Italy vs. Puerto Rico.


The End Is Near, but Not Close Enough

By Bill Grant
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Web Posted: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2004; 9:53 p.m. EDT

ATHENS -- We've officially hit the wall and we're ready for these Olympics to be over.

Yeah, there's still plenty to be settled over the next four days. We don't know which bunch of overachievers the Dream Team is going to lose to. We don't know if the guy from Ethiopia or the guy from Kenya is going to win the marathon. We don't know who will be next to be stripped of their medals. We don't know if Svetlana Khorkina is ever going to stop whining and start eating. And we don't know which feel good, we-are-the-world storyline organizers are going to present before shooting off a bunch of fireworks and calling this thing a wrap Sunday night.

But we do know that 17 days is just too long for an Olympic Games. Consider:

Many of you have now seen Carly Patterson's beam routine at least 40 times (the four times she performed it in competition and the 36 times NBC has replayed it). We find ourselves resisting the urge to do her punchfront as we wait to cross the street.

We're starting to think of McDonald's as gourmet fare.

Michael Phelps is spending his second week of the Games cavorting on the beach with Amanda Beard. They are talking about forming a mixed-doubles team in beach volleyball for 2008.

After two-plus weeks of watching, dodging and barely avoiding drivers in Athens, we are starting to think wistfully about the Mixing Bowl project.

We have to choose between these marquee events Thursday: the team handball quarterfinals, the canoe-kayak (flatwater) semifinals or the synchronized swimming team technical routine.

We ran out of clean clothes on Day 10.

We're starting to develop a real fondness for watching the sun rise from the bus window as we lumber back to the media hotel, just in time for breakfast.

But fear not, unlike certain Aussie rowers and British marathoners, Snippets will carry on to the bitter end, no matter how much our readers may want us to quit.

Missing Medal Turns Up
After a two-day search, the silver medal awarded to Dutch rower Simon Diederik has been found in the back seat of Ioannis Zavos's taxi. Diederik hailed Zavos' yellow taxi Monday night, but after getting out realized he'd left the medal behind. The search was on after Olympic organizers notified owners of the 5,000 taxis in Athens. For his honesty, Zavos will receive an undisclosed gift from organizers. For his part, we hope Diederik gets a stern talking to about keeping track of his valuables.

Olympians (Plus Anna) Overtake Bryant
Kobe Bryant has lost the top spot on the list of most-searched athletes on the Web, according to Lycos, the Internet search engine. The new No. 1 is U.S. Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard. Bryant dropped to sixth. Nos. 2-5: Russian gymnast Svetlana Khorkina, U.S. high jumper Amy Acuff, U.S. gymnast Carly Patterson and tennis player Anna Kournikova. Quite an impressive list, we must say.

_____ Grade NBC _____
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More Horseplay
You have to love those Olympic announcers: We just heard the call of the freestyle dressage, in which horses basically dance to music. NBC's Tim Ryan breathlessly noted the "high degree of difficulty" in the performance of a Swedish horse and rider and then described the freestyle as "the most beautiful and exciting" part of the event. While the excitement is clearly lost on us, it's not on the folks who filled the stands (yes, filled the stands), waving flags and clapping energetically.

From the E-mail Bag
From David Krantz of Alexandria: "Did you know that China is amazing? China has won 24 gold medals, one fewer than the USA! That's terrific, but you wouldn't know it by watching NBC's coverage. NBC only airs events in which Americans are favored to win. It would be nice to watch some events where it's simply a good game and exciting competition -- not just the ones where we win. And besides, I'm tired of hearing the words "lost" or "lose" when referring to second place; it's terribly arrogant."

Dennis Loney of the District adds this: "It's sad that NBC feels compelled to broadcast the gymnastics pageant. (Why do they hold that thing anyway?) Sure, the lighting is more dramatic but the gymnasts don't have the same intensity or focus. Why can't we be left with the image of Carly Patterson's amazing floor routine that won her the gold instead of an embarrassing fall on her bum? And isn't it, like, the eighth time I've seen that routine?"

Similarly, Ann Mackay Miller of Waterbury, Vt., may have a possible solution for those unhappy with NBC's coverage: "... All I can say is that I am glad that here in northern Vermont the nearest big city is Montreal. I was grateful to have the CBC coverage instead of having to rely on NBC's. The CBC showed a much wider variety of sports (not just the "marquee" ones), even when (gasp) there were no Canadian athletes competing; the commentary was more restrained and better informed; and they had more real-time broadcasts. (In the interest of some balance, I was pleasantly surprised by the NBC swimming commentary, even if the broadcasts were market- and prime-time-driven.)"

Finally, one more on Paul Hamm from Polly Stiness of Barrington, R.I.: "Don't they media-train these kids? Please, Paul Hamm, stop talking! Or else just say, 'I did my best. I was thrilled to ace my last two routines and win the gold for my country. But I want to have won it fair and square, and that's going to be up to the judges to decide.' Period. Not another word."

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

Here are your top six most-searched athletes: Amanda Beard, Svetlana Khorkina, Amy Acuff, Carly Patterson, Anna Kournikova and Kobe Bryant.

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