by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
August 26, 2004
OLYMPICS, OLYMPICS, NEENER NEENER NEENER
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- We're winding down the final days of the Olympics, and while I don't think the 2004 games have carried the same emotional intensity as 1996 and 2000, there have still been some interesting stories over the past two weeks.
At least, so I'm told. I've only been able to catch NBC's coverage, which barely acknowledges there are other athletes in the Games.
NBC Announcer Tom Hammond: And there's Justin Gatlin sprinting toward the finish line and it ... wait a minute, it looks like he's running ahead of some man-shaped objects that are also running in the same direction. Gatlin is ahead of these man-shaped objects and he wins the 100-meter dash ahead of some other guys who aren't Americans! We take you now to the gymnastics facilities.
NBC Announcer Al Trautwig: Thanks Tom. We're bringing you 45 minutes of rhythmic gymnasts' practice for tomorrow's event. We thought about actually showing you the women's gold medal soccer match, but we decided gymnastics was more popular than the world's biggest spectator sport.
But despite NBC's typical Olympic coverage, I've found that there are more athletes than just the Americans and more sports than just track, swimming, and gymnastics. And I want to tell you some of their stories.
American Greco-Roman wrestling sensation Rulon Gardner won a bronze medal against Iran's Sajad Barzi. Gardner said he would retire after the Olympics, so when the match was over, he removed his shoes and left them on the mat, in a wrestler's traditional gesture of retirement.
Gardner then carried an American flag around the arena, tears streaming down his face. Afterward, one reporter asked Gardner if he thought it was odd that such a burly guy would cry over the fact that he couldn't wear tights and hug sweaty men anymore.
Funeral services for the reporter will be held this Sunday.
Doping has been one of the bigger stories at this year's games. Not only have two of Greek's favorite sprinters left the games rather than face a doping test, but numerous other athletes have been caught using performance enhancing drugs.
Testing technology has improved to the point where officials are able to immediately determine whether an athlete has used an illegal drug or not. This is a far cry from previous techniques, which involved asking athletes "Have you ever really looked at your hand?" after an event.
The most notable case in these games is Irina Korzhanenko, the Russian female gold medal shotputter, who tested positive for the steroid stanozolol. She was stripped of her gold medal, but has refused to return it because she says she is innocent. Korzhanenko says she is the victim of a conspiracy and that she has not taken performance enhancing drugs in years. Unfortunately, her remarkable resemblance to Rulon Gardner suggests otherwise.
Maybe I'm being close-minded, but when a woman is built like Hulk Hogan and is capable of hurtling a ball that weighs as much as a small car, you'll have a hard time convincing me there was no pharmaceutical assistance involved in her success.
Speaking of conspiracies, the self-titled "Queen of Gymnastics" Svetlana Khorkina is whining about her own little conspiracy. The Russian diva believes the gymnastics judges purposely cheated her out of her gold medal in the women's all-around gymnastics competition.
"I practically did everything right. Still they just set me up and fleeced me," she told a Russian newspaper after she finished second.
Apparently, not happy with only being the second best gymnast out of nine billion people in all the world, Khorkina believes the judges have a bias against her.
When asked why the judges would side against her, Khorkina said, "I think it's because I'm from Russia, not from America!"
Actually, Svetlana, I think it's because you're something else. And it's not "Russian."
And finally, what would the Olympics be without politics? Even President George W. Bush can't escape offending IOC officials. In a recent campaign commercial, President Bush mentioned that there would be two new democracies -- Iraq and Afghanistan -- in "this year's Olympics."
Olympic officials were in an uproar, because they say they own the rights to the Olympic name, and that no one is able to use it without their permission.
So I guess the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee don't like people to use the word "Olympics" when they're talking about the Olympics or write columns about the Olympics, even though we're merely relating the name of the global sporting event that occurs every four years (also known as an Olympiad).
But despite these events, the Olympics have been exciting to watch, even if they are on NBC. I only hope these controversies can be resolved soon, and we can get back to serious matters that should concern the entire world.
Making fun of Svetlana Khorkina some more.