One hundred ninety-nine nations, plus four athletes from East Timor who competed as international athletes, participated in the first Olympiad of the new millennium. Sydney was the host, and local bets Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe did not disappoint the hometown crowd. Freeman, an Aborigine athlete, lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremonies, then 10 days later won the gold in the women’s 400m in front of an adoring crowd. It was sweet redemption for the runner after her silver medal finish in Atlanta four years earlier. The gold was also Australia’s 100th in Olympic competition. Swimmer Thorpe, meanwhile, won three golds and two silvers to dominate the pool, including an Olympic record in the 400m freestyle.
The United States topped the medal standings with 37 golds, followed by Russia’s 32. China served notice of its bid to become a sporting superpower with 28, good for third.
After winning a medal in the previous three Olympics, the Philippine delegation, made up of 19 athletes, came home empty-handed this time, despite the fact that taekwondo, which produced two bronzes in ’92 when it was still a demonstration sport, made its debut as an official event. A lot was also riding on the boxers, who were hoping to surpass Onyok Velasco’s silver medal in Atlanta. Instead, the four fighters were all eliminated before the medal rounds. (Source: Olympic.org and Olympic.ph)
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