From father and son to dad and daughter, these Games captured it all
Updated: Sunday August 29, 2004 4:35PM
We asked the Sports Illustrated staff members who covered the XXVIII Olympiad to leave us with their indelible memory of the Games. Bill Frakes is Sports Illustrated staff photographer based in Jacksonville, Fla.
The single most indelible image I'll take out of these Games wasn't a picture I made but something I saw. I considered photographing it, but I changed my mind because I didn't want to spoil the moment. And I would have.
Konstantinos Nikiforos is the photo operations manager here in Athens, and he and his staff have bent over backward to make things work well for the photographers. It's a very difficult job. You're battling conditions, rightsholders issues and everybody's own specific issues. But he's been amiable, accessible and approachable. He's been great.
On the final day of Athletics, he brought his 7-year-old son, Dimitris, to Olympic Stadium and the two were maybe 25 meters from the finish line at ground level. From over my shoulder, I saw Konstantinos sort of kneeling down by his son and showing him the scene. Konstantinos probably had a daily 18-hour grind for the past two or three years, but the look of joy and rapture on his son's face, the pride and the happiness and the sharing between the two is something I will never forget. Maybe it's because I have a young daughter, but that's my favorite image of the Games.
Of course, on the track, Hicham El Guerrouj's win in the 5,000 was incredible. A phenomenal athlete, the greatest athlete of his generation in distance racing. I think Saturday night was the second best day of Athletics I've ever seen in my life. The best? Aug. 8, 1992. Barcelona was more electric than Athens, but Athens, well, it's Greece and the Olympics. It's a perfect setting. This Olympics has been absolutely wonderful. Simply, the best.
One of the interesting things for all of us -- the athletes, the writers and the photographers -- is that the best people in the world are here.
Photographers are a very tight network of people. You have guys who are fiercely competitive, but pretty much everybody is there for one another. The same people who are shooting at the finish line have been together at the past three or four world championships and Olympics. You absolutely want to thrash the other person photographically, but in terms of sharing information, equipment and techniques, there's great cross-pollination in how everybody works together.
I was at the finish line right before the men's 4 x 100 relay, and Mike Blake, who is one of the most talented sports photographers in the world, was also shooting the race.
I have a 3-year-old daughter, Havana, and right before the race he came up to me carrying a Happy Hatters CD, which is a band his wife is working with that sings children's music. Mike said, 'Hey, I brought this for Havana. She'll really like it.'
Here's a guy who is one of Reuters' lead photographers, totally zapped at the end of the Games, and he's thinking about getting my daughter a CD. I was left thinking: This is a very special person.