Russia takes the money
Americans, Chinese and Cubans excel at Goodwill Games
Updated: Monday September 10, 2001 7:51 PM
BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -- The U.S. Dream Team collected its Goodwill Games basketball gold medal -- as expected; the Cuban boxers snared nine gold medals and China matched that in diving, also as expected. But the biggest winners in Brisbane were Russian.
Russian race walker Olimpiada Ivanova, who spent two years out of competition for a doping violation, won US$120,000 for winning the women's 20-kilometer walk in world record time. She got US$20,000 for the win and a US$100,000 bonus for the world record.
For the record, her time of 1 hour, 26 minutes and 52.3 seconds shed more than two minutes off the mark of 1:29:36.4 set by Portugal's Susanne Feltor.
Valentina Popova set three weightlifting world records and picked up US$81,000.
Popova had lifts of 113.5 kilograms in the snatch and 143.5-kilogram in the clean-and-jerk, both records in those disciplines in the women's 69-kilogram class that also gave her a new mark for the total.
She got US$25,000 for each of the three weightlifting records and US$2,000 for each of her three gold medals.
Evgeni Plushenko and Irina Slutskaya, who won the men's and women's figure skating titles, each took home US$40,000.
Sergo Chakhoyan, an Armenian-born Australian weightlifter, set the first and only other world record of the 12-day invitation-only event when he lifted 181.5 kilograms to win the snatch in the men's 85-kilogram class. He also earned another US$6,000 for the three gold.
But the winnings come at a cost.
All prize winners are subject to Australian taxation and could have to forfeit anywhere up to 49 percent of their winnings.
Another big winner was the Queensland state government, which spent U.S. US$15.4 million on staging the games and got billions of dollars worth of global TV and media exposure for its thriving tourism industry.
"We're ecstatic," Peter Beattie, the state's political leader, said of the games.
The 12-day event came to an end officially on Sunday night when 100,000 lined the banks of the Brisbane River to watch fireworks and attend a free concert that included rock band INXS.
Goodwill Games founder Ted Turner appeared on a series of giant floating television screens on the river to thank the city "from the bottom of our hearts."
Track and field athletes, figure skaters and swimmers were eligible for the biggest stakes of the U.S. US$5.156 million prize pool at the Games, which excluded bonuses.
But the athletics didn't live up to expectations, nor did swimming.
Michael Johnson and Marion Jones provided two highlights on the track. Johnson, the world record holder at 200- and 400- meters and a winner of five Olympic and nine world championships, ended his stellar career by anchoring the U.S. men to a win in the 1,600-meter relay.
Jones' avenged her shock world championship loss to Ukrainian Zhanna Pintusevich-Block in the 100.
But the lowpoint was the men's 5,000 meters. Minutes after Ivanova's world record walk, Kenyans and Ethiopians conspired to set standards for slowness at a major meet.
Paul Bitok of Kenya won it in 15 minutes, 26.10 seconds in a sprint finish after loping around the first 11 laps. His time was slower than the winning time in the women's 5,000.
Aussies dominated swimming, but the dual meet swim program and points system was panned by the paying public. Local organizers were also critical of some swimmers.
Australia won the men's and women's team finals and most of the individual golds -- providing the bulk of its overall haul of 29 gold.
But below-strength American, World and European All-Stars teams frustrated crowds with tactics that included forfeiting some events and holding back in others.
Highlighting the farce, Australians Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett -- both world record holders at freestyle -- took turns swimming backstroke. Thorpe won, Hackett placed second.
Making matters worse, a Brazilian relay swimmer left the pool halfway through his race when he thought he'd set a 50-meter record and was up for a cash bonus and a starting block broke and sent a swimmer tumbling into the pool.
A few failings aside, Goodwill Games Inc. president Mike Plant said the invitation-only event had a bright future and that host cities for the 2003 Winter and 2005 Summer Games would be revealed within months.
The games were the brainchild of media mogul Ted Turner as a Cold War gesture of goodwill after a U.S.-led boycott of the Moscow Olympics in 1980 and a reciprocal Soviet-bloc boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The concept was realized at Moscow in 1986 for the first time.
The 2001 edition was the first held outside of the United States or the former Soviet Union.
"There's a lot of speculation," about Brisbane being the last Goodwill Games, Plant said. "But like Ted [Turner] said, people have been saying this since 1986 and we're still here."
Brazilians won both the men's and women's beach volleyball gold medals to repeat their domination at New York in 1998.
Sandra Pires and Tatiana Minello combined to snap the 28-match winning stretch of world No. 1 compatriots Adriana Behar and Shelde Bede in the women's decider.
Jose Loiola and Ricardo Santos teamed up to beat Argentine world champions Mariano Baracetti and Martin Conde in the men's final. American teams won both bronze.
Jermaine O'Neal led the scoring with 14 points as the American basketballers bounced back from a last-ditch, overtime semifinal win against Brazil to thrash Argentina 91-63 in Sunday's gold-medal match.
In the preliminaries, the United States, still unbeaten since its professionals began playing international competitions, had beaten Argentina by 30 points.
Brazil went into overtime for the second consecutive day, but this time came out with 94-93 win against Australia for the bronze.
The 11-man Cuban boxing lineup, containing four world champions, won nine of the 12 weight divisions.
It was no surprise to world champion Damian Martin.
"In Cuba we have prepared for these sort of results ... with hard work and preparation," he said. "The gold medal is a reflection of that."
Russia's Aleksandr Povetkin beat Rustam Saidov of Uzbekistan to win the over-91 kilogram class, the only final Sunday that didn't contain a Cuban.
American Ronald Siler took the 48-kilogram division and Russia's Gaidarbek Gaidaibekov beat Australia's Paul Miller in the 75-kilogram division, the only class that didn't contain a Cuban.
The Chinese picked up all but one of the 10 diving gold medals.
Capping it Sunday, world and Olympic champion Tian Liang led a Chinese 1-2 finish in the men's 10-meter platform, while Guo Jingjing and Wu Minxia took gold in the women's synchronized springboard.