Friday, 13 July 2012

Road to Olympics : 2000 - The Millenium Games

Sydney - Australia had the honour of hosting the millenium Games which marked the second start of another 100 years of the Olympics heritage. That the city down under got the Games was only the second time they were being hosted in the Southern hemisphere ( Melbourne still in Australia had hosted the Games in 1956).

The backdrop of the Games was the fact that Greece the spiritual home of the Games had been beaten by Atlanta in hosting the previous ones which marked 100 years of the modern Olympics. It was also coming in with less tensions across the world but with the soon-to-change security situation - thanks to concerns about terrorism.
The Games also stuck out for the cultural festivals around Australian and Aboriginal cultures which are rich and at times colliding. That Cathy Freeman would be the torch-bearer and go on to win infront of her home crowd is not an understatement to what significance the Games held to the local populace.

Kenya had had dismal performances in the 1990s and this would not change much in the 2000 Games.But before that here's a preview of the main highlights;


3-in-1 mascots

  • Cathy Freeman - an Australian of Aborigine origin won the 400m becoming the first person to light the torch and go on to win gold in an event in the same Games;
  • Marion Jones won 3 gold medals after trying to gun for 5 potential ones. These came in the 100m, 200m and 4 X 100m relay races. She confessed to using banned performance-enhancing substances and was stripped of all her medals;
  • Ian 'Thorpedo' Thorpe became an instant sensation winning 3 Gold and 2 silver - in the swimming competitions becoming the Games poster boy;
  • The Cameroon football team shocked the world by beating Spain to claim gold in the men's competition. The  team was led by Patrick M'boma and a young prodigy by the name of Samuel Etoo;
  • Michael Johnson won the 400m flat, as well as the 4 X 400m relay ( but this was cancelled after the 3 other athletes admitted to use of performance-enhancing substances);
  • China - the roaring Asian tiger would stealthly work its way to the top of the medal rankings - finished 3rd after US and Russia. By 2008, China would overhaul both these countries to emerge top medal winner at the Beijing Games.
  • Paul Tergat & Haile Gebreselassie would treat the world to one of the most exciting finishes of the longest stadium race - 10,000m with Haile using his lethal finishing kick to narrowly beat Tergat to silver. 

Kenya Figures;

  • 56 athletes were sent to the Games including 34 male and 22 females;
  • They participated in 6 disciplines including archery, athletics, boxing, cycling, swimming and volleyball;
  • 2 Gold, 3 Silver & 2 Bronze were all won in athletics - Gold: Reuben Kosgei ( 3000m steeplechase) & Noah Ngeny (1500m); Silver: Wilson B. Kipketer (3000m s'chase), Paul Tergat (10,000m) and Eric Wainaina (marathon) and Bronze : Joyce Chepchumba (women's marathon) and Bernard Lagat (1500m)
  • Future World champion Vivian Cheruiyot placed 14th in 5000m - she hopes to beat the Olympic jinx & win her first medal ever in 2012.

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