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Athens 2004 - Quick hits


Only one track and field world record was broken in 2004 in Athens; Russia's pole vault queen, Yelena Isinbayeva, cleared 4.91 meters to little surprise. Promising Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang, just 21, equalled the 12.91-second record held by Britain's Colin Jackson over 110 meters.

Wrong target

Defending gold medalist shooter Matthew Emmons was on target for a second Olympic title when, in the last stages of the final, the American mistakenly shot at his rival's target. He ended in a deflating eighth position.


The U.S. men's basketball team managed only bronze in 2004, with the star-studded NBA side embarassingly beaten by Puerto Rico, Lithuania and Argentina. The United States had won gold in the event in 1992 with the "Dream Team" and had repeated the feat in 1996 and 2000.


Brazilian marathon runner Vanderlei Lima was far ahead of the field and 7 kilometers from the finish when a defrocked priest seeking publicity leapt from the crowd and began to push and shove the bewildered athlete. Lima ended the race third after the distraction but was awarded a special medal. The Irish protestor, Cornelius Horan, was given a suspended prison sentence.

Gold rush

After the equestrian teams' three-day event, Germany was declared the winner. However, it then was ruled that Bettina Hoy had made an illegal start by twice crossing the starting line. Hoy won an appeal, but a counter appeal from France stung her with 12 penalty points, handing France the team gold and Britain's Leslie Law the individual women's gold.

Card marked

South Korean Yang Tae-young was denied gold by an American judge who mistakenly gave his final routine a 9.9 start mark when it should have been marked from 10. Had it been marked from 10, he would have won gold, not bronze. American Paul Hamm was awarded gold, a feat tarnished by bitter acrimony over the judging error.


Some 25 Olympians fell foul of doping laws during the Games, seven of them medalists and 11 of them weightlifters.

Another fine catch

Birgit Fischer won gold in the K4 kayaking event, her eighth gold medal all told, but the German missed out on joining the magic club of Nurmi, Latynina, Spitz and Lewis, each of whom has nine, when she could manage only silver in the K2 500.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.

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