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A Perfectly Frenzied Ending

August 11, 2004|Bill Dwyre

The last Saturday of the Olympics brought the anticipated -- in fact, scheduled -- crescendo of activity.

Carl Lewis won his fourth gold medal, anchoring the U.S. men's 400-meter relay team to a world-record time of 37.83 seconds, the first in track and field at the Los Angeles Olympics. In the post-event news conference, runner Sam Graddy, after having been asked two questions about Lewis and none about him, walked out.

Britain's Sebastian Coe won his second consecutive Olympic 1,500, leaving behind a field of ailing and overextended challengers, among them British teammate Steve Ovett. Ovett, who had been ill the entire Olympics, collapsed before the finish and had to be carried off. American Steve Scott had gone out too fast and faded to 10th.

Romania's Maricica Puica, who had won the controversial women's 3,000, put on a finishing kick in the women's 1,500 to get a bronze in the race won by Italian Gabriella Doria.

The American domination of the boxing was completed, the United States claiming nine gold medals, one silver and one bronze, meaning it was shut out in only one weight division.

Light-flyweight Paul Gonzales of East L.A. won the outstanding-boxer award, angering teammate Mark Breland, who considered his domination of the welterweight division more impressive. Gonzales' backers handed out posters at the medal ceremony, commemorating Gonzales' victory, saying they'd been so sure their man would win that they'd had them printed a month before the Games.

The one U.S. bronze went to Evander Holyfield, who had been disqualified in his light-heavyweight semifinal on a controversial referee's decision that prompted The Times' Jim Murray to label Holyfield "the martyr of the Olympics."

The U.S. men's volleyball team, which hadn't qualified for an Olympics since 1968, won the gold.

France beat Brazil in the gold-medal soccer game, and yet another record crowd somehow squeezed into the Rose Bowl. This time, attendance was 101,799.


-- Bill Dwyre

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