This archived article was written by: Micah Iverson
Even with terrorist threats in the back of everyone’s minds, the 2004 Olympics proved to be one of the greatest in known history. With the Olympics in Athens, many athletes turned their minds to the ancient athletes who competed over 1500 years ago in some of the same competitions.
There were many heroes made in these Olympics, some new, some old. Records were set, and of course scandals were unfortunately found within the games. But the games went on without a hitch and billions around the world watched as their respective countries fought and competed for medals
With the opening ceremonies out of the way, thousands of internation alathletes were ready to give 100 percent to win the all-coveted gold medal that would hopefully await them. The United States of America won the medal count with 103. Second was owned by Russia with 92, and in third was China with 63.
At the conclusion of every Olympics, some of the best athletes in the world are seen. The Olympics seem to be the apex of their careers. They have the opportunity to represent their country, and retire standing on top of the world.
These Olympics did not disappoint. We saw the likes of Rulon Gardner,the underdog 2000 gold medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling, win bronze, and in fitting fashion, walked off the mat shoeless, marking his retirement from competitive wrestling. Veteran members of the U.S. women’s soccer team, like Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, and Brandy Chastain ended their illustrious careers with gold medals.
Accordingly, we see athletes who are just starting their careers, but in great fashion. The hometown hero of Heber city, Cael Sanderson, the undefeated collegiate wrestler at Iowa State, was fittingly crowned gold medalist at these Athens Olympics. Just 25, his career is limitless and gold seems to be in the future as far as anyone can see.
Superstar U.S. women’s gymnast, Carly Patterson, just 16, captured gold in the women’s all around, and helped her team to the silver in the team competition. Also, 100 meter American sprinter, Justin Gatlin, shocked the world with his gold-medal run in which he stunned defending gold medalist Maurice Greene. The future is in good hands for the upcoming games in 2008.
When former American swimmer Mark Spitz won 7 gold medals in the 1972 games in Munich, many thought that record would last for a long time.
Michael Phelps, a 19-year-old American swimmer, qualified for enough events in the U.S. swimming trials prior to the Olympics to test that record. He lived up to everyone’s expectations and then some. No, he didn’t win eight gold medals, but did win seven and ended up with a bronze also. He won the most medals by any other athlete in any Olympics. His accomplishments shouldn’t be downplayed just because he didn’t break the record, because he made one of his own.
If you would have asked the U.S. men’s basketball team before the Olympics, what they were to come home with, they would have had a golden glimmer in their eye. Much to their chagrin, they finished a dismal third with a victory over Lithuania and took home the bronze medal.
The U.S. women stood their ground with a dominating performance in every game to win the gold medal. Hands down the most dominating performance of the whole Olympics is given to the U.S. women’s softball team, They outscored their opponents by a combined 51 to 1 on their trek to thegold medal.
As much as we don’t like to hear of controversy surrounding world-class athletes, there are always situations that have to be dealt with. Sometimes it is necessary to take away a medal from an athlete for using steroids or performance enhancing drugs, or having to deal with judges who misuse their authority.
Without exception the 28th Olympiad received a few black eyes. The women’s shot put gold medalist was stripped of her medal after testing positive for steroids. Paul Hamm, the U.S. gymnast gold medalist, nearly had to give back his all-around gold medal after a judging mistake. Fortunately he was able to retain that which he won. Lastly we all know about the controversy surrounding Marion Jones and her husband, world record holder Tim Montgomery. If only the athletes today could think about the athletes of old and get back to the love of the sport and the natural rush you get from competing.
Every Olympics brings together the nations of the world for two weeks and thousands compete for themselves, their countries, and for the camaraderie they feel from the other athletes. We watch, glued to the television, anticipating what move our favorite athletes will make next. A sense of unity comes to all of us and for 16-short days we laugh, cry, and cheer our hearts out. We thank the IOC (International Olympic Committee), Athens, and most importantly the athletes who competed in this years Olympic games.