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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SPOTLIGHT / THE
SHORT AND SWEET SIDE OF THE GAMES

Of All Choice Seats to Pick, He Had to Go and Sit There

September 30, 2000

A Sydney man was charged with stealing an Olympic boxer's accreditation pass after the real owner discovered the man sitting next to him at an event.

Police said today the unidentified Australian boxer spotted the 27-year-old man sitting next to him at a women's basketball game at the SuperDome. The arena holds nearly 15,000.

When the man noticed he was sitting next to the real owner of the pass, which had a picture of the Olympian on it, he immediately fled the arena.

After a short chase, the boxer and members of the Australian judo team apprehended the man. The man, who was not identified by police, will appear in court Oct. 19.

The pass disappeared from a gym inside the Village Plaza on Monday, police said.

SORRY RAJ, THAT WASN'T YOUR TIP

Australian Olympic rower Rachael Taylor was reunited with her silver medal after a Sydney taxi driver checked under his back seat.

She lost the medal, won with Kate Slatter in women's coxless pairs, after late night celebrations in downtown Sydney on Wednesday.

"We'd been out partying . . . celebrating the bloody thing," Taylor said. "I left my medal on the back seat and tipped myself out."

After an all-points alert was put out to cab companies, a taxi driver named only as "Raj" found the missing medal and organized its return.

ARE THERE REALLY THAT MANY EVENTS?

A Web site that pokes fun at the Olympics posted its medals chart "to ensure the USA doesn't win."

Based on medals won through Thursday, Silly2000 calculates how many gold, silver and bronze each country would have won if it had the same population and wealth as the United States, which had 32 gold medals when the calculation was made.

By that standard, Cuba--a poor country of about 11 million people--would have won 2,470 gold medals, 3,953 silvers and 988 bronze instead of the three, four and two shown in the official chart.

Filling out the top five in the gold medal chart were Bulgaria (1,335), Estonia (1,166) Romania (1,069) and Lithuania (1,055). The United States was in 37th place.

CALL HIM BORIS THE BASELINER

Boris Yeltsin, a big tennis fan, called Yevgeny Kafelnikov to congratulate him on his victory in the final match of the men's singles tournament.

Kafelnikov is the first Russian tennis player to win a gold medal.

"You can believe me or not, but Boris Nikolaivitch [Yeltsin] and his daughter Tatiana called to congratulate me," the new Olympic champion said.

The former Russian president, who resigned Dec. 31 after more than eight years in power, loves tennis and is often seen attending the Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

WAIT UNTIL THE BAND HEARS ABOUT THIS

For the first time since 1936, British swimmers did not win any medals.

That's not too surprising, however, since the United Kingdom's budget for its swimming team is less than that of Stanford.

According to London's Sunday Telegraph, there are more 50-meter pools in New South Wales than in all of Britain.

MEDIA EXPOSES GREAT QUILT COVER-UP

Whether they're called bedspreads, quilts or doonas, the Australian term, the bed coverings in the media village have become a source of controversy.

Signs there warn the visiting journalists that the doonas, blue and white and emblazoned with "Sydney 2000," are not to be taken home as souvenirs, since they will be needed for the Paralympics in a couple of weeks. Those ignoring the edict will be charged $400 Australian, according to the posted notices.

Meanwhile in the Olympic village, athletes are being encouraged to take the quilts home.

Woolmark, the Australian company that provided the quilts, is siding with the media on this one. A company representative said the firm was hoping to gain international exposure by sending the quilts home with the reporters and photographers.

IT'S PARTY TIME WITH RULON

They're pulling out all the stops in Afton, Wyo., as the picturesque mountain valley community prepares a hometown hero's welcome for Rulon Gardner, who shocked Russian Alexander Karelin for the gold medal in the super-heavyweight division of Greco-Roman wrestling.

Even the world's largest elk horn arch that spans the four-lane Main Street is being employed to celebrate the return of the native son, who defeated a wrestler who had never lost in 15 years of international competition.

Wyoming Gov. Jim Geringer and governors of Utah, Idaho and Colorado are being invited for a celebration honoring Gardner, and area businesses are collaborating to feed the 6,000 people expected.

Local grocers will furnish beef for a free community picnic, said Richard Hoopes, Gardner's former high school coach.

"I'm sure a lot of the dairy farmers will have lots of ice cream and cold milk on hand," Hoopes said.

A date for the event hasn't been set.

--From reports by David Huebner, Mike Kupper and Times wire services.

BY THE NUMBERS

4: Fouls by bronze medalist Marion Jones in six attempts in women's long jump.

39: Olympic basketball games played by Australia's Andrew Gaze, a record for a male.

32: Years since United States won gold medal in men's pole vault before Nick Hysong's victory.

2: Margin of victory for U.S. men's basketball team over Lithuania, smallest since pros began play in 1992.

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