The good: Dee-na! Dee-na! Dee-na! If there is one thing we completely do not understand, it is the love of distance running. If there is one thing we completely do understand, it is the significance of Kastor's bronze medal in the marathon and the pleasure we sometimes get from someone else's pure joy.

The bad: It's a good thing the USOC had all those long talks with American athletes about behaving with propriety at the Games. Otherwise who knows what Justin Gatlin and Shawn Crawford would have pulled? Their antics in the 100-meter semifinals -- turning to talk to each other during the last 20 or so meters -- were revolting.

The ugly: We'd been feeling sorry for gymnast Svetlana Khorkina this past week. From her physical appearance, this once lovely and healthy woman is obviously struggling with bigger issues than degree-of-difficulty numbers. But her boorish comments to a Russian newspaper alleging that the women's all-around was rigged, her snide comments about Carly Patterson after showering her with those fake air kisses and her petulant behavior after she blew her uneven bars routine Sunday night is tamping our sympathy. Svetlana, dahling, you did not deserve to win the all-around. Silver was a tender mercy for your contributions to the sport, and a reflection of a field having somewhat of a collective off night. You performed with all the verve of a trained seal robotically trying to earn a herring. Best of luck to you in the real world, dear.

BUST OF THE DAY: Irina Korzhanenko, the gold medalist in the women's shot put, is being investigated for a positive drug test. Great. It'll probably be another couple of millennia before women are invited back to compete at Olympia.

SURPRISE OF THE DAY: U.S. shooter Matt Emmons blew a chance at a gold medal when he fired at the wrong target on his final shot of the 50-meter three-position rifle event. Whether he hit that target is immaterial; he got no points and instead of gold, will be taking home eighth place.


"I miss my car, my house, my cat. I miss everything about home. It will be exciting to be back."

-- Michael Phelps, one day after

winning his eighth and final

swimming medal

MALTA, MY MALTA: Well, our man Mario's Olympic experience is over, and so, too, is Malta's. Mario Aquilina finished a buoyant 39th out of 42 boats in the Laser competition, but because he sailed in 11 races, he was able to enjoy his Athens experience more than his six teammates, in that he was able to actually unpack his suitcase.

But perhaps Mario didn't even return to the Olympic Village for his bags. Perhaps he just set sail for home across the blue Mediterranean, the setting sun as his compass, to his island nation, drink in hand. Perhaps it's good to be Mario after all.

We stand by our decision to adopt Malta for these Games even if this was not to be the year that our little nation broke its medal drought. There were no embarrassing Village incidents, no blown drug tests, no whining about unfair judging. Good show, Maltese friends! We'll see you in Beijing!

SIGN OF THE ACROPOLIS: Of course Michael Phelps misses his car (see quote above), a Cadillac Escalade with televisions and a video game. Asked what he would do with the money he will earn from his Olympic performance, Phelps said he's been thinking about a new sound system.

-- Tracee Hamilton