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These Guys Were the Talk of the Town

August 01, 2004|Bill Dwyre

This was a newspaperman's day of delight: great quotes everywhere.

American swimmer Jeff Float, who lost 60% hearing in one ear and 80% in the other, had handled the opening leg of the men's gold-medal 800-meter relay team. In an interview session the next day, Float was asked to recall his memories from race day.

"All I know," he said, "is that when I hit the wall, the noise was deafening."

The U.S. men's basketball team, a powerhouse even before the days of the Dream Teams starting in 1992, scored a 104-68 victory over Uruguay, whose coach was asked afterward if he had, at any point, harbored thoughts of a big upset.

"At no time," he said. "But perhaps if we played five against seven ... "

Then, there was the ABC interview with former President Richard Nixon, who loved the Olympics and talked at great length with Frank Gifford about all aspects of it. At one point, Nixon said, "What is fatal is to quit." The viewers saw only that. ABC edited Gifford's follow-up conversation, where he said, "You seem to know something about that." To which Nixon, after a long pause, said, "Yes I do."

The U.S. women's gymnastics team, the night after the men had set the bar so high with their upset gold-medal performance, felt greatly dissatisfied and talked about it when they won only the silver. It was the first U.S. women's team gymnastics medal since 1948.

Another first: The U.S. women's field hockey team won for the first time ever in the Olympics, beating Canada, 4-1.

American cyclist Steve Hegg, known for beating Bill Johnson in a national downhill skiing event in 1981, successfully completed his change from cold-weather Olympics to warm by getting gold in the 4,000 individual pursuit.

As always, there were bumps in the Olympic road.

Swedish pistol shooter Roderick Martin, caught unaware when a target popped up, missed his chance to shoot at it. So, to make up for it, he fired twice at the next target. That was against the rules and Martin was disqualified.

Equestrian rider Mark Watrino of Puerto Rico, during a jump, ended up instead with his horse caught between rails during the three-day event.

The U.S. women's volleyball team, among the favorites coming in, had a close call against Brazil, losing the first two games of the best-of-five match before rallying. The leader was Flo Hyman, at 30 the team's veteran and star. Two years later, Hyman would collapse and die during a match in Japan from what was diagnosed as Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that can lead to a ruptured aorta.

-- Bill Dwyre

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