Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
watch listen BBC Sport BBC Sport
UK version International version About the versions|Low graphics|Help
Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 August, 2004, 15:47 GMT 16:47 UK
Phelps' star shines brightest
By Phil Gordos
BBC Sport in Athens

Michael Phelps

If Michael Phelps was a country, he would have finished higher in the medals table than Brazil, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

The American swimmer left Athens with six golds and two bronzes, narrowly failing to emulate Mark Spitz's tally of seven golds in Munich 32 years ago.

It was a phenomenal effort from the 19-year-old from Baltimore, who managed to stay humble and focused while the press worked themselves into a frenzy around him.

Expect a similar media circus in Beijing after Phelps pointedly refused to rule out another assault on eight golds in 2008.

Had Phelps not been in Athens, the man being talked about as the star of the Games could well have been another swimmer, Aaron Peirsol.

He claimed three golds, winning both the 100m and 200m backstroke as well as helping the United States to victory in the 4x100m medley relay.

Yet his achievements, massive as they are, were eclipsed by those of his team-mate.

Kostas Kenteris had his Olympic pass confiscated

The furore surrounding Phelps took some of the spotlight away from the drugs scandal that erupted on the eve of the Games.

A highlight for Greece should have been the 200m title defence of Kostas Kenteris.

But the host nation was forced to seek out another hero when the Sydney gold medallist was withdrawn, along with fellow sprinter and medal hope Katerina Thanou, after missing a drugs test.

With Kenteris absent, the US claimed a 1-2-3 in the men's 200m final, Shawn Crawford finishing ahead of Bernard Williams and 100m champion Justin Gatlin.

It was the first sweep in the event since 1984 and once again highlighted the dominance of the Americans in track and field.

In Sydney, US athletes took home 10 gold, four silver and six bronze medals and in Athens, their haul was an incredible 25 medals, eight of them gold.

Only Russia came close to matching those exploits inside the Olympic Stadium.

But there were notable wins for Hicham el Guerrouj in the men's 1500m and 5,000m, Kelly Holmes in the women's 800m and 1500m, and for local favourite Fani Halkia in the women's 400m hurdles.

Sweden also had a Games to remember, heptathlete Carolina Kluft, triple jumper Christian Olsson and high jumper Stefan Holm all winning gold in the space of 24 hours.

We fought as hard as we could but couldn't get it done
Allen Iverson
US co-captain

Away from the pool and the track, the focus was on the so-called 'Dream Team - the US men's basketball team.

Shorn of such stars as Shaquille O'Neill and Kobe Bryant, they were still expected to have too much talent for their opponents, but it soon became clear that this was not going to be a walk in the park.

They suffered a shock defeat to Puerto Rico in the opening game before being humbled by eventual winners Argentina in the semi-finals.

Australia enjoyed a great Games, particularly on two wheels.

Ryan Bayley
Bayley's double capped a memorable Olympics for Australia

The Aussies pocketed six gold medals in cycling, including two for track sprinter Ryan Bayley.

They also ended their long wait for success in the men's hockey event, while star swimmer Ian Thorpe added two golds to the three he won in Sydney.

Japan were dominant in the judo arena, walking off with eight golds, while Romanian gymnast Catalina Ponor won gold in the beam, floor and team competitions.

It came as no surprise to learn that Cuba, with five golds, were the most successful country in the boxing ring, while German canoeist Birgit Fischer grabbed her eighth Olympic gold at the age of 42.

As for the host nation, the disappointment they felt over Kenteris and Thanou quickly dissipated when divers Thomas Bimas and Nikolaos Siranidis won the country's first gold of the Games on day three.

Greece went on to finish with six golds, although celebrated weightlifters Pyrros Dimas and Akakios Kakiasvilis, who were chasing their fourth Olympic titles, were not among them.

It was a decent return but one that is sure to be dwarfed by China when it takes its turn to stage the Games in 2008.

Links to more Olympics 2004 stories



E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Paralympics | US Sport | Other Sport | Olympics 2004

Scores & Fixtures | Have Your Say | Photo Galleries | TV/Radio Listings

Sport Relief 2004 | Fun and Games | Question of Sport | BBC Sport Plus

Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport