Olympic Highlights: 2004

Day-to-day news from Athens

by Shmuel Ross and Erin Teare Martin
Sunday, August 29
Highlights of the Day
A man with a history of disrupting sporting events runs onto the marathon course, grabs Brazil's Vanderlei de Lima, and pushes him into the crowd. De Lima, who had been in the lead with about three miles to go, runs back onto the course, but falls behind about a mile later. He ends up with the bronze medal, and will also be awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal for "exceptional demonstration of fair play and Olympic values." Perhaps needless to say, Brazil appeals.
In spite of last-minute construction, scoring controversies, and dozens of disqualifications for doping, the Athens Games are widely viewed as a triumph for the city, and for the Games.
While China has come in a distant third in the overall medal count at Athens, they're a very close second in the gold medal count: they have 32, while the U.S. has 35. The Games head to Beijing in 2008.
Medal Count
Twenty medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 103 medals, Russia has 92, and China has 63 medals.
Saturday, August 28
Highlights of the Day
Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco wins the 5,000 meter race. He becomes the first man to win both the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races in one Olympics since Paavo Nurmi did it in 1924.
The U.S. women's basketball team wins its fifth gold medal of the past six Games, beating Australia 74–63.
Medal Count
Twenty medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 100 medals, Russia has 84, and China has 62 medals.
Friday, August 27
New World Records
Track and Field: China's Liu Xiang ties the world record in the 110-meter hurdles, finishing in 12.91 seconds. The record had been set eleven years before.
Highlights of the Day
The United States basketball team loses its semifinal game against Argentina, 89-91. This will be the first time the U.S. team will not win the gold medal since it began using professional players in 1992.
American Marion Jones has a bad night, one which, she says, "exceeded my wildest dreams in a negative sense." An hour after placing fifth in the long jump, she and teammate Lauryn Williams botch a baton handoff in the 4x100m relay race, leading to the U.S. team being disqualified.
Medal Count
Twenty medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 90 medals, Russia has 68, and China has 57 medals.
Thursday, August 26
Highlights of the Day
American runners sweep the 200m race. Shawn Crawford wins, followed by Bernard Williams and 100m champ Justin Gatlin.
Medal Count
Fifteen medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 83 medals, Russia has 57, and China has 54 medals.
Wednesday, August 25
New World Records
Weightlifting: Iran's Hossein Reza Zadeh sets a new record in the weightlifting 105kg class with a weight of 581.02 lbs.
Highlights of the Day
Gal Fridman becomes the first Israeli to receive an Olympic gold medal when he wins the windsurfing (or Mistral) event.
Medal Count
Eighteen medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 76 medals, Russia has 54, and China has 52 medals.
Tuesday, August 24
New World Records
Track and Field: Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva sets a new record in women's pole vault with a height of 16 feet, 1.3 inches.
Highlights of the Day
Iraq's men's soccer team loses to Paraguay, ending its remarkable winning streak. Iraq will now play for the bronze medal.
A misstep in the women's 100m hurdles causes Canada's Perdita Felicien to trip and knock over Russia's Irina Shevchenko. American Joanna Hayes goes on to win the race in Olympic record time.
The American beach volleyball teams earn gold and bronze. The winners, Misty May and Kerri Walsh, did not lose a set in the entire tournament.
An earthquake of the magnitude 4.5 shakes Greece, just 42 miles northeast of Athens. Residents and athletes do not report feeling the quake.
Medal Count
Thirteen medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 73 medals, China has 51, and Russia has 48 medals.
Monday, August 23
Highlights of the Day
American runner Justin Wariner wins the 400m. Wariner's teammates, Otis Harris and Derrick Brew, win the silver and bronze, respectively. No non-American has won the Olympic event in 20 years.
The United States wins the gold in softball. During this tournament the team outscored their opponents 51–1.
Athanasia Tsoumeleka of Greece wins the 20k women's race walk, the first track and field gold for the host country this year.
Medal Count
Nineteen medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 66 medals, China has 50, and Russia has 41 medals.
Sunday, August 22
New World Records
Cycling: In the first round of the men's pursuit, Team Australia sets a record with a time of 3:56.610. In the women's individual pursuit, Sarah Ulmer breaks her own world record and wins the gold, with a time of 3:24.537.
Highlights of the Day
Women's wrestling makes its debut as an Olympic sport.
The American men's heavyweight eight win the gold medal, a first in 40 years for U.S. rowing. The American women come in second. Both American heavyweight eights set world records in the heats on August 15.
Four men run the 100m in under 10 seconds, a first for any Olympics. American runner Justin Gatlin wins the event in 9.85.
After being detained in the tennis stadium until 4 a.m. following his win in men's doubles, an exhausted Nicolas Massu of Chile defeats American Mardy Fish in five grueling sets. The men's singles match takes four hours to complete, and gives Massu and his country their second gold medal.
Medal Count
Twenty-seven medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 57 medals, China has 46, and Russia has 36 medals.
Saturday, August 21
New World Records
Swimming: The American men win the 4x100m medley relay, in a world record time of 3:30.68. The Australian women do the same, with a world record time of 3:57.32.
Cycling: Australian Katie Mactier breaks the individual pursuit world record held by New Zealand's Sarah Ulmer, with a time of 3:29.945. Ulmer immediately reclaims the record with a time of 3:26.400.
Weightlifting: Gonghong Tang of China breaks two of her own world records in the super heavyweight 75+kg class, lifting 182.5kg in the clean and jerk, and 305kg in the total.
Highlights of the Day
American swimmer Michael Phelps wins his sixth gold medal of the games in the 4x100m medley relay, having raced in the qualifying heats. This gives him a total of eight medals at Athens, including two bronze. Phelps is now tied with Russian gymnast Aleksandr Dityatin for greatest number of medals won in a single Olympics. And he's only 19.
See: All-Time Leading Medal Winners - Single Games
Swimmer Jenny Thompson wins her twelfth Olympic medal when the Americans get the silver in the 4x100m medley relay. She now has more Olympic medals than any other American woman.
See: Most Combined Overall Medals
Chilean Fernando Gonzalez wins the men's singles bronze medal in tennis. Shortly thereafter, he and Nicolas Massu earn Chile's first-ever gold medal, winning the doubles crown in a match that ends after 2:30 a.m. local time.
After reviewing South Korean gymnast Yang Tae Young's parallel bar routine from the all-around competition, officials acknowledge a mistake in the scoring and suspend three judges. Nevertheless, officials say the results will stand, and American Paul Hamm keeps the gold.
Medal Count
Thirty-two medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 46 medals, China has 41, and Russia has 33 medals.
Friday, August 20
New World Record
Cycling: Australia's Anna Meares sets a world record in cycling's 500m time trial with a time of 33.952.
Highlights of the Day
Ethiopian runner Kenenisa Bekele wins the men's 10,000m race. In the last lap of the event he passes his teammate Haile Gebrselassie, a two-time gold-medal winner in the event.
Medal Count
Twenty medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 40 medals, China has 36, and Russia has 28 medals.
Thursday, August 19
New World Records
Shooting: In the qualification round of the running target final, Manfred Kurzer of Germany sets a world record, scoring 590 out of a possible 600 points. He went on to get the final gold medal in this event, which will not be held in future Olympics.
Weightlifting: Liu Chunhong of China breaks three of her own world records in the light heavyweight 69kg class, lifting 122.5kg in the snatch, 153kg in the clean and jerk, and 275kg in the total.
Highlights of the Day
American Aaron Peirsol swims the 200-meter backstroke in 1:54.95, more than two seconds faster than his closest competitor, but is disqualified for performing an illegal kick during his turn at the 150-meter mark. The United States files a protest with FINA, the sport's governing body, and the disqualification is overturned just before the medal ceremony. The Austrian and British teams protest that the disqualification should stand but their appeal is rejected.
Medal Count
Fifteen medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 36 medals, China has 32, and Russia has 22 medals.
Wednesday, August 18
New World Records
Weightlifting: Hanna Batsiushk of Belarus breaks her own world record in the 63kg weightlifting class, snatching 115 kilograms. She is, however, outdone in the clean and jerk by Nataliya Skakun of the Ukraine, who ends up with the overall gold medal.
Swimming: The U.S. women set a record in the 4x200 freestyle relay with a time of 7:53.42. Australia's Jodie Henry sets the world record in the semi final of the women's 100m freestyle in 53:52 seconds.
Highlights of the Day
Gymnast Paul Hamm wins the all-around competition, a first for an American man. After a terrible fall in his vault landing, Hamm came back to score 9.837 on the high bars. His win by just .012 points over Kim Dae-Eun of South Korea is the closest win in Olympic history. Paul Hamm's twin brother Morgan is also a member of the U.S. men's gymnastics team.
Greek track stars Costas Kenteris and Katerina Thanou drop out of the Olympics after a week of controversy. The one-time Greek favorites missed a doping test and then went missing, ultimately turning up in a hospital with minor injuries attributed to a motorcycle accident. Both athletes claim not to have taken any performance enhancing drugs. The case has now been referred to the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Track and Field events begin today. The men's and women's shot-put events take place in the ancient stadium at Olympia, site of the original Olympics. These are the first Olympic events to take place there in 1,600 years, and the first ever to include women.
Medal Count
Twenty-one medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 29 medals, China has 22, and Australia has 16 medals.
Tuesday, August 17
Fact of the Day
Mariel Zagunis wins the first Olympic fencing medal in history for the United States when she defeats China's Xue Tan in the individual sabre. Her teammate Sada Jacobson wins the bronze. Both of Zagunis's parents were Olympic rowers.
Medal Count
Eleven medal ceremonies are performed. The United States has 19 medals, China has 18, and Australia has 14 medals.
Monday, August 16
New World Records
Shooting: China's Zhu Qinan sets a world record in the 10-meter air rifle competition with a score of 702.7.
Weightlifting: China's Shi Zhiyong ties a world record in the men's under 62kg with a total weight of 325kg.
Highlights of the Day
Greek synchronized divers Nikolaos Siranidis and Thomas Bimis win the first gold for the host country in the 3m springboard competition.
In the last round of the men's team Gymnastics competition, Japan wins a gold medal for the first time since 1976.
Medal Count
Fourteen medal ceremonies are performed. China has 15 medals, while the United States and Australia have 13 each.
Sunday, August 15
New World Records
Swimming: South Africa sets a new world record in the 4x100m men's freestyle relay with a time of 3:13.17.
Rowing: Three records are set in rowing; however, due to variable weather conditions world records in rowing largely are considered meaningless. In the women's lightweight double Australia's Sally Newmarch and Amber Halliday win in a time of 6:49.90. Both American heavyweight eights break records; the men race the 2000m course in 5:19.85 and the women win in 5:54.68.
Fact of the Day
Udomporn Polsak became the first woman to earn an Olympic gold medal for Thailand in any sport by winning the 53kg weightlifting competition.
Medal Count
Fifteen medal ceremonies are performed. China, Australia, and the United States are tied with 8 medals each.
Saturday, August 14
New World Records
Swimming: American swimmer Michael Phelps breaks his own world record in the 400m individual medley with a time of 4:8.26. Phelps has a chance to medal in seven more events. Australia breaks a world record in the 4x100 women's freestyle relay with a time of 3:35.94.
Weightlifting: Turkey's Nurcan Taylan sets new records in the women's under 48kg with a total weight of 210.0kg and a snatch of 97.5kg.
Fact of the Day
A new format for the team gymnastics competition makes its Olympic debut. In the finals, only three gymnasts will perform and all scores will be counted, unlike the Sydney games where four athletes performed on each apparatus, allowing the worst score to be thrown out.
Medal Count
Thirteen medal ceremonies are performed. China leads the medal race with four golds.
Friday, August 13
Opening Ceremonies
72,000 spectators and billions of television viewers watch the Athens Games opening ceremonies.
Thursday, August 12
New World Records
Archery: In the second day of preliminary competition, South Korean archers set three world records. Sung Hyun Park sets the record for women's individual 72-arrow round with 682 points, while the women's team combined 216-arrow score is a record-setting 2,030 points. Dong Hyun Im breaks the men's individual 72-arrow record with 687 points.
Wednesday, August 11
Preliminary Competitions Begin
Competition begins in men and women's soccer, determining which teams will qualify for the quarterfinals once the Games get underway in earnest.

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