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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
Going out in style
BBC Sport Online's Tom Fordyce watches open-mouthed as the Olympic Closing Ceremony unfolds.
Traditionally, opening and closing ceremonies have been a magnificent excuse for the host nation's most ostentatious individuals to get together for a big communal Show-Off.
Sydney seized the baton with glee and somehow managed to go a whole lot further.
Two hundred years of butch, hard-nosed Aussie stereotypes were blown away in a fiesta so camp even Liberace would have blushed.
Hi-NRG disco, sequins by the truckload and enough feather boas to put the nation's striptease artistes out of work, presided over by the High Priestess of Camp herself, Kylie.
Even the moths partied.
Sinister indeed was the inflatable man-eating shark on wheels which circled the athletes standing nervously on the in-field, chomping its jaws menacingly.
There was no need to panic though. This was simply the vehicle of choice for Greg Norman, a more benign type of Great White Shark than the one which killed two surfers off Australia last week.
Norman stood on a tee which sprouted from the shark's back and, grabbing a club, prepared to drive into the crowd.
Thousands held their breath. This was a man famed for cracking under pressure - a man who famously lost four play-offs in Majors.
Would he buckle once again and shank his shot into the VIP enclosure?
No. Straight and true it flew - right into the gawping spectators in the stand.
As the fruit made its stately progress down the home straight, mini-bananas wearing pyjamas - of course! - danced down its length.
It was merely the start of a succession of ever more trippy moments.
To huge cheers, Elle McPherson threw off her cloak to reveal a dress made of a very small number of beads. She waved gracefully as the barrel of the 30ft gun on which she stood slowly extended with telescopic wonder.
It soon became a question of which Aussie cultural icon would be next.
Paul Hogan on a Crocodile Dundee float was ticked off the list. Midnight Oil, Savage Garden, Yothu Yindi, a sadly Hutchence-free INXS - all came, all conquered.
Shrimps on bikes, alligators on rollerblades and bulls on scooters were more of a surprise.
There were drag-queens in stiletto-shaped cars, too many fireworks to take in and an old bloke with a guitar named Slim Dusty.
Unlike his foul-mouthed American rap namesake Slim Shady, Dusty was politeness personified as he warbled a touching version of Waltzing Matilda.
Just before Slim's emotional finale, old war-horses Men At Work had come on in a desperate attempt to redress the balance towards old-skool Aussie manhood.
"I come from a land Down Under," they roared. "Where men drink beer and then chun-der."
All that was missing was Stefan Dennis - better known as Paul Robinson from Neighbours - with his 1988 smash hit Don't It Make You Feel Good.
The heart-break Stefan must have felt at this Olympic-sized snub can only be imagined.
Much has been made of Australia's great sporting prowess, but you can't be good at everything. This roll-call of Australia's finest performers will have given most Brits watching a warm, smug glow of self-satisfaction.
So what if the Australians' medal haul dwarfed that of Team GB? At least Britain wouldn't have had to rely on Tracey Shaw, Steps and David Essex at our closing ceremony. They can keep Thorpedo and the Ashes. At least we have our pride.
Still, like everything else during these Games, it all came good in the end. That firework display - the most expensive the world has ever seen - ensured November 5th will never seem quite the same ever again.
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