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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 06:34 GMT 07:34 UK
Olympic diary: Day one
By Phil Gordos and Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Athens

Ian Crocker (left) and Michael Phelps at the American swimming news conference
Crocker was left in Phelps's shadow

Michael Phelps is proving a popular man as he attempts to create Olympic history by winning eight gold medals.

But not all his US swimming team-mates were happy to share a stage with him at a news conference this week.

Brendan Hansen, the 200m breaststroke world record-holder, looked distinctly unimpressed when question after question was aimed at Phelps.

And Aaron Peirsol spent his time pulling faces at the cameramen while Ian Crocker just looked bored.

As for Lenny Krayzelburg, who bares a striking resemblance to Russian tennis player Yevgeny Kafelnikov, he chose to help out the American media manager by pointing out potential questioners in the audience.

The whole team eventually got some time in the spotlight, but the man everyone had come to see was undoubtedly Phelps.

The Americans have a reputation for caring little about goings-on beyond their own shores.

But surely even they would admit that Sir Steve Redgrave deserves his place in the pantheon of Olympic gods after winning five rowing gold medals.

The American photographer dispatched to a sponsors' lunch in Redgrave's honour, however, begged to differ.

"They've never heard of him," the snapper snapped when asked about Redgrave's Stateside profile.

And that was the end of the conversation.

Forget the Olympics. If our straw poll of waiters and taxi drivers is anything to go by, European football still rules the roost here.

And, bizarrely, our Athenian friends seem to have a soft spot for Arsenal.

"Is Patrick Vieira really leaving for Real Madrid?" several asked this week, with genuine looks of concern.

So it was hard to tell if the relief in the Greek capital on Friday was down to the opening ceremony going off without a hitch, or Vieira staying at Highbury.

Early contenders for the most cynical PR stunt of the Games have to be France.

Clearly hoping to curry favour with fans of the host nation, the French team members turned up for the opening ceremony waving their own flag in one hand and the Greek one in the other.

A nice gesture perhaps, but it could stand them in good stead for events when the Greeks have none of their own stars to support.

Russian gymnastics star Svetlana Khorkina has also cottoned on, and is planning to use some music from the Greek film Never on a Sunday as the backdrop to her floor routine.

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