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Monday, August 23, 2004

Olympics: My Favorite Olympic Scenes 

Watching the athletes stand atop the platform during the medal ceremony always gets to me, even when the non-Americans take gold. There's something about the scene of a champion standing at attention, saluting his or her flag, that I find noble.

Through the Games' first ten days I hadn't really gotten to watch many of the ceremonies. Tonight I've seen a few memorable ones, starting with the U.S. Softball team, which cruised to an expected Gold. American pitcher Cat Osterman helped contribute to that medal. I've followed Cat's career -- and I actually had the opportunity to interview her prior to 2003's Women's College World Series -- since her sensational freshman year at the University of Texas. Seeing her represent both school and country at her sport's highest level was a definite highlight.

Justin Gatlin also took home Gold for the USA today, claiming the "fastest man alive" honors in the 100M sprint. With the Star-Spangled Banner seranading his victory, Gatlin's beaming smile gave way to another emotion. He fought back tears as he sung along to the national anthem (speaking of, I think the version that they've used during the Games is the best one I've ever heard).

I also want to mention Russian Alexei Nehmov's performance in the Men's High Bar gymnastics event. Nehmov fell prey to a controversial judge's scoring, which cost him a chance at a possible medal. His routine drew thunderous applause from the crowd, which soon changed to a chours of boos when his score placed him only third. Despite his obvious disappointment, Nehmov's classy demeanor in defeat showed why he ranks among the great Olympians in recent memory.


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