Work in Sports
Who soared and who stumbled at the Olympics
Medal counts and TV ratings tell only part of the story in Sydney: As any follower of the Dream Team can attest, not all who won gold glittered. Herewith a tally of who landed right-side up and who went belly-up Down Under:
WINNER U.S. men's soccer. The Yanks' surprising run to the medal round diminished the bad memory of the 1998 World Cup and, just maybe, presaged the U.S.'s arrival as a soccer force.
LOSER U.S. men's basketball. Apathetic play turned the world's best hoopsters into boo-worthy villains. Said Jason Kidd after the near loss to Lithuania: "We definitely would have been the goats of the Olympics." Sorry, guys -- you were anyway.
WINNER Women's pole vault. Tatiana Grigorieva and the other high-flying beauties in this debut event left male fans slack-jawed.
LOSER Race walking. The nerd-friendly sport became the joke of the Games when judges DQ'd the apparent men's 20K winner and three women who led in the final 15 minutes of their 20K for failing to walk properly.
WINNER The Netherlands. The Dutch beat Cuba in baseball and had two of the biggest stars in swimming in Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband. Plus, their unofficial headquarters, the Holland Heineken House, boasted the best nightly parties in Sydney.
LOSER New Zealand. In both medal count and attention, New Zealand was completely overshadowed by its boisterous island neighbor. Best line in local papers: "Only Kiwi who's scoring at these Games is Russell Crowe," the Gladiator star who was spotted canoodling with Meg Ryan.
WINNER Real underdogs. Equatorial Guinean dog-paddler Eric Moussambani and U.S. Greco-Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner provided the Games with emotional highlights far more moving than NBC's schmaltz.
LOSER Marketers. For the first time in recent memory, no Mary Lou Rettons emerged to carry the advertising torch. Says Burns Sports Celebrity Service president Bob Williams, "After next month Lenny Krayzelburg isn't going to be on the mind of your average sports fan."
WINNER Sydney. Glowing reviews and record attendance have led to calls for an encore performance in the near future.
LOSER Athens. Buzz about unpreparedness left IOC members whispering that the 2004 Games might be better off elsewhere -- like, say, Sydney.
Issue date: October 9, 2000
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