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October 16, 2000
Upon returning from Sydney, U.S. Olympic medalists promptly received the standard hero's welcome—they got to go on Letterman. How did the rest of the world celebrate the return of their conquering Olympic heroes?
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October 16, 2000

Welcome Back, Mate

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Upon returning from Sydney, U.S. Olympic medalists promptly received the standard hero's welcome—they got to go on Letterman. How did the rest of the world celebrate the return of their conquering Olympic heroes?

India:
Karnam Malleswari, bronze medalist in women's weightlifting, was showered in marigold garland and rose petals as she walked into the New Delhi airport. She also received more than $50,000 from local and state governments for her performance. Soon afterward she decided to change her plans to retire.

Indonesia:
The gold medal badminton team of Tony Gunawan and Candra Wijaya was met at Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta by traditional dancers wearing grass skirts and face paint. Both winners also received $80,000, plus a complete set of appliances, home electronics and mobile phones.

South Korea:
Upon arriving in Seoul, archery gold medalist Mi Jin Yoon received a visit from teen idol Seung Joon Yoo, South Korea's Ricky Martin. Before leaving for Sydney, Yoon had told Yoo that she had a crush on him, and he responded by promising to write a song dedicated to her if she returned with a gold medal. She won two.

Romania:
Gymnast Andreea Raducan (right), who was stripped of her all-around gold medal despite heated protests from the Romanian sports authorities, was met at Bucharest's Otopeni airport by 1,000 cheering fans, a brass band, President Emil Constantinescu and her sobbing parents. ("She is my golden girl," said her mother, Simina.) Two days later a Romanian film company optioned the rights to her life story for $10,000.

France:
The men's basketball team, a surprise silver medalist, was hailed by President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Explaining why the team came up just short against the U.S., the daily Liberation wrote, "Very early in [American players'] lives, mothers pull forcibly on the legs of their small boys. Then when they have finished stretching their boys on the clothesline, they force-feed their children with a...funnel. French mothers do this as well, but usually to geese."

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