Site: Sydney, Australia
Dates: September 15 - October 1
Total Athletes: 11,116
Australia hosted the 27th Olympiad with class and style, as the Olympic Stadium was filled with more than 100,000 fans each night of the track and field competition.
The Summer Games in Sydney featured several unexpected dramatics. U.S. Greco- Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner won the gold medal by defeating Russian Alexandre Kareline, who was unbeaten for 13 years and didn't allow a point for ten. Gardner's peers elected him to serve as U.S. flagbearer for the closing ceremonies. The American softball team rallied for gold medal after losing a 112-game winning streak and dropping three straight in the tournament. The U.S. men's basketball team was almost beaten, squeaking past Lithuania 85-83 in the semifinals.
The U.S. track and field team again demonstrated why they are the number-one ranked squad in the world. Team USA earned a total of 20 medals in track and field competition at the Sydney Olympic Games...eight more than the next-best nation, the Russian Federation with 12. Ethiopia was third in the medal tally with eight. Team USA?s 10 golds more than doubled the second-best totals of Poland and Ethiopia, which had four each. The Russian Federation won three golds. The American baseball team dethroned two-time defending gold medalists Cuba.
The games closed with Marion Jones getting her five medals, although they were not all gold (3 bronze).
It was an Olympics of many firsts, especially for women's competition. Taekwondo, trampoline and synchronized diving made their debuts in theOlympics. polo and women's weightlifting.
The 2000 Summer Games also featured domination in the pool by the United States. The Americans won 33 swimming medals, 14 of them gold, as Jenny Thompson led the charge. However, nobody will soon forget "The Thorpedo" Ian Thorpe of Australia, Inge de Bruijn and Pieter van den Hoogenband both of the Netherlands. American Lenny Krayzelburg had three gold medals from three events.
However, the Summer Games were tainted by several allegations of doping and cheating. Five medals were taken away because of positive drug tests, including a gold medal by Romanian gymnast Andreea Raducan. She took cold medicine prescribed by her doctor, but the medicine turned out to be banned. American shotputter CJ Hunter, the husband of Jones, had pulled out of the Games injured but tested positive for steroids.
It was an emotional time for many Australians as Cathy Freeman became the first Aborigine to win a gold medal at the Olympics, taking the 400-meter race in front of a raucous crowd of 112,000.
Another heart-warming moment came in the 100-meter freestyle swim event. Eric Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea swam solo and got a standing ovation just for finishing the race.