2004 OLYMPICS

washingtonpost.com's Bill Grant took your questions Thursday. Read the transcript.
Abby Wambach scores in the 112th minute with a 10-yard header off a corner kick by Kristine Lilly to lift the United States to a 2-1 win over Brazil and a gold medal.

Shawn Crawford wins the 200-meter dash in 19.79 seconds, leading an American sweep. Bernard Williams gets silver and 100-meter champion Justin Gatlin takes the bronze.

Stephon Marbury sets a U.S. Olympic record with 31 points and the Americans make 12 three-pointers in a quarterfinal win over previously unbeaten Spain.

Dwight Phillips leads a 1-2 U.S. finish in the long jump, going 28 feet, 2¼ inches on his first try to win gold. NCAA champ John Moffitt wins the silver.

Felix Sanchez gives the Dominican Republic its first Olympic gold medal by winning the 400-meter hurdles in 47.63 seconds.

"I talked about feeling good about where I was in my life, and this is a great way to end it."
-- Mia Hamm, after playing her last major game with the national team - a 2-1 overtime win over Brazil for the Olympic gold medal.

"We're here at the birthplace of the Olympics. The defending Olympic champion is from Greece and there were certain situations that didn't allow him to compete. I can understand their feelings. I know they're disappointed. I know they're upset."
-- Crawford, on the delayed start of his race while Greek fans whistled to protest the absence of withdrawn sprinter Kostas Kenteris.

"My parents and myself, we always believed that I would. I mean, I didn't think that story was that big of a deal. I overcame that. Now I'm Olympic champion and happy and filled with joy."
-- Phillips, who was told by doctors he might not walk again after breaking both legs as a 14-year-old when he was hit by a motorcycle.

"Playing under coach [Larry] Brown is not easy. It's tough because he demands so much from you -- to try to play your game and try to do what he wants, and have that all combine in one has been a challenge to me. But it's been a great challenge."
-- Marbury

"Dean Smith would have never done a thing like that."
-- Spain's basketball coach, Mario Pesquera, angry about a late U.S. timeout with a 10-point lead.

"You know what? It's incredible when you've got 80,000 people screaming at you from all sides. I feed off the crowd, and when I'm playing to 80,000 people, it just amps me up even more."
-- U.S. pole vaulter Toby Stevenson, on the crowd factor in Athens.

With an eye toward possible pro success, American fighters Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward fight in the Olympic semifinals.

It's semifinal time for both the men's and women's basketball teams, with Stephon Marbury & Co. seeking their fourth straight gold while Sheryl Swoopes & Co. look for their third.


Kiss and Tell Edition

By Bill Grant
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Web Posted: Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004; 7:54 p.m. EDT

ATHENS -- There sure has been a lot of kissing going on.

Yeah, we know that there's always a lot of kissing of the medals at the Olympics but it definitely seems that the Athens Games have raised the art (or is it a sport) of Olympic kissing to new levels.

First, there's the kissing of weird objects:

Milen Dobrev of Bulgaria bent over to kiss the barbells after winning gold in the men's 207-pound event. He wasn't alone; a weightlifter from the Dominican Republic also bussed the bells.

Then there was Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who put lips to the pole that vaulted her to a world record.

Those were celebratory kisses. Ahmed Almaktoum of the United Arab Emirates seemed to kiss his rifle for luck before a shooting event.

The floors at the Olympic venues might not be clean enough to eat off of, but they are clearly okay for kissing:

Racewalker Ivano Brugnetti of Italy and Canadian cyclist Lori-Ann Muenzer each got down on hands and knees to kiss their tracks.

At the boxing venue, Egypt's Ahmed Ismail kissed the canvas after defeating his Canadian opponent.

For Aldo Montano of Italy, it wasn't enough to kiss his gold medal in fencing. He got down to kiss the podium he stood on to receive the prize.

There are, of course, lots of kisses for parents and spouses and teammates and babies (not to mention all those air kisses at the gymnastics venues), but there were a couple of kisses that touched even our hard heart:

Iran's Hossein Reza Zadeh kissed the Koran after his gold medal weightlifting win. You only had to look at him to know this was a private moment that happened on a world stage.

We poked fun at flatwater kayaking in an earlier column, but Ian Wynne of Britain blowing kisses to the crowd was a special moment.

Australia's Stuart O'Grady kissed his year-old son Seth with overwhelming paternal emotion. Seth, however, was too busy teething on daddy's gold medal to notice.

Try as we might, though, we could find no evidence that any of the riders in the equestrian events kissed their horses.

-- xoxo from Athens

Workplace Efficiency Takes a Hit
We don't get to see NBC's coverage of the Olympics, but we heard kudos from our friends back home who were able to watch -- on live TV  -- the men's basketball game in the morning and the U.S. women's soccer team win over Brazil for the gold medal later in the afternoon. Of course, we're not so sure their bosses were quite as thrilled.

Schroeder Not Happy With Ruling
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says the Olympic medals awarded in equestrian's three-day eventing competition are worthless. This after Germany lost two gold medals in the event when France, Britain and the United States won an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

"If I were a Frenchman or American I would ask myself whether it is worth wearing a gold medal that was not won through achievement but through interpreting the rules, and in a dubious way to boot," Schroeder told a German TV station.

The court ruled that German rider Bettina Hoy should have suffered time penalties in last week's show-jumping final, costing her the individual gold and Germany the team title. Because of the ruling, France was moved up to first, Britain stayed in second and the United States was awarded the bronze medal. In the individual competition, Britain's Leslie Law moved up to gold, American Kimberly Severson to silver and Briton Pippa Funnell to bronze.

NBC Just Can't Resist the Waterworks
This from AP television writer David Bauder: "Triathlon announcer Siri Lindley was audibly disappointed when her former training partner, Australian Loretta Harrop, was passed near the end and had to settle for a silver medal. NBC had focused on Harrop, with a sketch of her brother Luke, a fellow triathlete who was killed in a car accident. After keeping the tissue factor to a minimum this Olympics, NBC couldn't resist this one. The sound effects of children playing behind a still picture of Harrop and her brother were designed to open the waterworks."

Games Winding Down; Ticket Sales Picking Up
Sales have generally picked up now that marquee events such as track and field have kicked in, and Olympic organizers say they have surpassed their initial goal of selling 3.4 million tickets to the Games. Venues were about 92 percent full Wednesday, when 38,000 tickets were sold.

From the E-mail Bag
Mark Peal of Waitsfield, Vt., rides to the defense of dressage. " ... I've only been riding for five years, but this much I know. Horses are large powerful animals that, left to their own, know how to do three things: eat, breed and run away from danger. I had the opportunity to see the American Olympic qualifying event in New Jersey. To see horse and rider working together with refinement, finesse and subtlety is indeed breathtaking. And afterward, the competitors listened attentively to the judges' commentary. The sport has little room for pumped-up attitude."

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More on NBC from Mike Mauro of Alexandria: " ... [NBC's] coverage has also missed some of the best foreign athletes in the world competing because they do not fit into NBC's criteria. I don't want to bash NBC, but I am left with a feeling of being spoonfed the Olympics this year. The games are about international competition and good will, and I just want to see a little more of that. I'll get down off my soap box now.

On the other side is Maureen McCulley of Reston, who says she loves this year's coverage. " ... I have never even heard of handball and now I think it is a wonderful sport. I've been watching much of the extended coverage and I'm glad to see many of the sports I've never seen before."

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

Stuart O'Grady gives son Seth a smooch after winning cycling gold medal. (Damien Meyer -- AFP)
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