Olympic games to remember | TheUnion.com

Olympic games to remember

We don’t say this about every Olympic Games: They ended too soon.

Who would have figured that with all the doom and gloom over the past couple of years – the Greeks won’t be ready, the terrorists will attack, the dopers are ruining international sports – that this Olympics would be so enjoyable?

Oh, sure. The crowds were a bit sparse, but who really cares how big the crowds are? And a lot of the local fans who showed up sometimes displayed a decidedly anti-American point of view – especially toward the U.S. sprinters after their own track heroes failed to show for a doping test, then dropped out of the Olympics after a mysterious motorcycle crash. (The Athens media screeched that it was all an American plot.)

But the number of medalists disqualified for failing drug tests was the highest ever, indicating the sports community is getting serious about stopping cheaters. The fact that few new world or Olympic records were set also hints that athletes who may have been inclined to use performance-enhancing drugs were wary of the new testing regimen.

And the only “terror” threat was a wacky defrocked Irish priest in a kilt who mugged a Brazilian runner who was leading the marathon. The Brazilian won a bronze medal, as well as a special sportsmanship award, although his country (quite legitimately) continues to press for a duplicate gold for him.

There was a bad taste left by the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG), which abdicated its responsibility for poor officiating and tried to pressure American Paul Hamm to give up his gold medal as the all-around champion. (The U.S. Olympic Committee finally grew a backbone and told FIG to take a flying leap.)

But kudos to all the athletes, especially those unknowns who thrilled us by rising to glory, and to NBC, which brought us the Games with such efficiency and drama.

The Greeks certainly set the bar high for the Chinese, who will host the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

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