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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
The greatest night?

By Steve Cram
BBC Sport in Athens

Has there been a better three hours of athletics than what we witnessed in the Olympic Stadium on Saturday night?

Try listing the events in your head - Kelly's wonderful win, Steve Backley's farewell, Borzakovskiy's sprint to 800m gold, El Guerrouj's 5,000m triumph, the British relay boys - it's a hell of a roll call.

It was a fantastic three hours.

Was it better than 'Magic Monday' in Sydney?

Then we had 112,000 screaming Cathy Freeman to 400m gold, Jonathan Edwards' triple-jump win, Haile Gebrselassie edging past Paul Tergat in the 10,000m and Michael Johnson's farewell 400m.

Part of me says, why compare? Just accept it as a great, great night.

When you start looking at it purely from a British perspective, it was extraordinary.

The 4x100m relay gold was completely out of the blue.

Don't tell me that we got lucky with the US team messing up their second baton change.

That's what the relay is all about - getting the baton round safely as quickly as possible. And the GB quartet did that better than the US.

Marlon Devonish and Mark Lewis-Francis did a very, very good job of holding on when the Americans were coming back at them.

Cast your mind back to the Worlds in Paris 12 months ago.

Then Dwain Chambers took the baton for the anchor leg well clear of JJ Johnson, only to be run down and lose gold.

This time, Mo Greene was chasing MLF - and he's five times the athlete that Johnson is, yet MLF stayed relaxed and brought home the bacon.

As for Kelly Holmes - she's just in a zone right now where everything just seems so easy.

When you're running like she is, you just feel so comfortable.

She was looking around as she came off that top bend because she knew she was going to run away from the rest of the field.

I loved the way he held his two fingers up, disbelievingly, as if to say 'Have I really won two golds?'

She had no idea she had broken her personal best when she finished, and that is the mark of how beautifully she is running - a new British record felt like a jog round.

Her rivals didn't hand her the race, either. They tried to run the race that would make it as hard for her as possible.

It was a hard race to win, and she made it look easy.

What else? Borza, my old favourite, finally won the gold his talent has been promising.

Then the 5,000m - for someone to win the 1500m, when all were doubting him, and then come again to win the 5,000m - it was fantastic.

It was a great way to underline El Guerrouj's career.

All season it had looked like it was going to go wrong - and yet it came together in way none of us dreamed possible.

I loved the way he held his two fingers up, disbelievingly, as if to say 'Have I really won two golds?'

Links to more Athletics stories


Olympics back pages
29 Aug 04  |  Olympics 2004


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