I am saddened and disgusted by media coverage implying that anything less than a gold medal in Athens is equivalent to failure. Being an Olympics participant in itself is a tremendous accomplishment. To win any medal against formidable world competition is a stunning achievement.

I was struck by one interviewer asking members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, which won a silver medal, what went wrong and whether they didn't feel terribly disappointed. One team member looked the reporter in the eye and responded, "We just won a silver medal at the Olympics. It's awesome."

Awesome indeed!

PATRICIA H. FLANIGAN

Washington

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It is outrageous that the International Olympic Committee refused to take a stand on the refusal of Iranian judo champion Arash Miresmaeili to compete with an Israeli [Sports, Aug. 18]. All the athletes chosen for the Olympics are told beforehand that politics are to be put aside and that sports and competing are the only things to be considered. Mr. Miresmaeili's refusal should have disqualified him. If the committee is too cowardly to enforce a rule, then it would have been marvelous if the other judo competitors declared their unwillingness to compete against Mr. Miresmaeili to show solidarity with what the Olympics ostensibly stand for.

ROSEMARIE RAUZINO-HELLER

Rockville