When we saw Aaron Peirsol at the medal podium -- on Magic TV, that's Channel 2 on our dial, No. 1 in our hearts here at the press center -- we thought the Olympics had gone cruel. After all, Peirsol had been DQ'd, which, sadly, is not short for Dairy Queened. Who wouldn't want to be Dairy Queened?

There was Peirsol, lined up for the medal ceremony, looking none too happy. Would the swimming judges put the gold medal around his neck, then rip it off, throw it on the ground, and maybe slap him across the cheek? Just once, but smartly, and the TV microphones would pick up the slap, or maybe dub it in later. That would be cruel . . . but awfully good TV.

Of course, we were wrong. Peirsol had been reinstated, the gold was his, and maybe he was just a little shellshocked by the speed in which he went hero-goat-hero. Although in 2004, that's a familiar triple play.

The real hero of the night was Markus Rogan of Austria. To think you've locked up your dream, only to have it snatched away . . . Paging Al Gore. Will Al Gore pick up the courtesy phone?

Yet Rogan, a graduate of Mount Vernon High -- not West Potomac High, and believe me, we'll never make that mistake again -- was more than gracious with what had to be a terrible TV moment of his own.

"For a moment, I thought about gold and the idea was just beautiful but, after all, it's fair like this," he said.

Revel in that for a moment. He didn't appeal to the swimming honchos, the Court for Arbritration in Sport, the International Olympic Committee, the International House of Pancakes, none of the important institutions of justice. He just took his lumps.

Mark it down, folks. We saw some Olympic spirit on Day 7.

BUST OF THE DAY: Benjamin Insfran (left) and Marcio Araujo of Brazil, the No. 2 seed in beach volleyball, were upset by Germany's Christoph Dieckmann and Anderas Scheuerpflug. Let's see, we're losing partying Brazilians and gaining partying Germans. The beach is a little less fun today.

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: The U.S. men's sabre team upset Hungary, one of the top fencing teams, and made it to the semifinals before twice losing, 45-44, and missing a chance at a bronze medal. An American team last won a medal in team sabre in 1948. We love the fencers and refuse to poke fun at them when they're down. And "poke" was not an attempt at a joke.


"How much better can life be than doing the sport you love with your best friend in front of 8,000 people?"

-- Joe Jacobi of Bethesda, about being in the two-man canoe competition with Matt Taylor. Jacobi and Taylor were sixth yesterday after two runs on the whitewater course.

MALTA, MY MALTA: No OCS for sailor Mario Aquilina today, but it hardly mattered. The Maltese Mast Master had another rough day at sea, finishing 40th in a field of 42, just ahead of the always tough Sami Kooheji of Bahrain, plus some Canadian guy who DNF'd. Aquilina is still drifting gently along near the bottom of the Laser class standings in 39th. With three races to go, only a well-placed drill bit in about 38 hulls is gonna get it done.

Fear not! Today we meet another of the Olympians from our adopted homeland, Tanya Blake, who will run tonight in the first round of the women's 800 meters. Go, Tanya!

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: The International Judo Federation investigated and concluded that Iranian Arash Miresmaeili, a favorite in the 66kg class, didn't miss weight to avoid fighting Israel's Ehud Vaks. This despite Tehran crowing about Miresmaeili being a hero in Iran. Either it's "heroic" to show up four pounds overweight, or he tanked. Judo is a sport that is crying for attention. You've got it now, folks. Nice job.

-- Tracee Hamilton