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Sydney 2000 Olympic Games - Athletics (Part 1)

I don't have many photos of the actual athletics competitions because I had officiating duties for most sessions.

DAY 7

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I had no duties for the morning session on the first day of Athletics. In thisphoto (1088) Matt Shirvington (AUS) acknowledges the crowd before the start of his 100m Heat. In Lane 5 is (3269) Jon Drummond (USA) and in Lane 7 is (2261) Patrick Jarrett (JAM). Like my up-close vantage point? I got the best seat in the house. I used my accreditation to walk into the stands and find a good vacant seat. The stadium was "full", but there were blocks of about 30 vacant seats behind the TV camera positions. SOCOG didn't sell these seats as the cameras supposedly obstruct the view. You can see the occasional block of blue amongst the crowd. Sometimes there weren't even any TV cameras there.

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Start of the Men's 20 km Walk. Like I said, best seat in the house. (1063) Nathan Deakes (AUS) finished 8th.  Also in the photo is (2569) Bernardo Segura (MEX).

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(2569) Bernardo Segura (MEX) and (2711) Robert Korzeniowski (POL) stride through the tunnel into the stadium. Korzeniowski won two golds in Sydney. Segura crossed the finish line first by 2 seconds in this race, but had picked up 3 warnings before he entered the stadium and was disqualified. He only found out about the disqualification some time after conducting his victory celebrations. Race walking is like having a competition to see who can whisper the loudest.

The evening session was my first time out on the Olympic arena. The atmosphere is something special at night with a full stadium. I was on Athlete Control for the Men's High Jump Qualification (Group A). I was playing "traffic cop", trying to stop runners knocking over high jumpers, and vice versa. Jumpers in Group A included Charles Austin (USA), Stefan Holm (SWE), Constantin Matoussevic (ISR), Mark Boswell (CAN), Tim Forsyth (AUS), and eventual gold medallist Sergy Kluigin (RUS) and bronze medallist Aberahmane Hammad (ALG).

DAY 8

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Here's me in the ring tunnel that runs beneath the Olympic Stadium. I'm standing next to one of the novelty vehicles that were driven about the Olympic Precinct. The tunnel was the quickest way of getting from one part of the stadium to another.

In the morning session I was Flag Judge for the Women's Heptathlon High Jump (Group B).

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One of the food halls.  Food in the Olympic Precinct was 50% more expensive than normal. Officials were given a per diem to cover eating expenses, but I sometimes went to the IAAF lounge in the Stadium to eat and to meet overseas officials, coaches and dignitaries.

In the evening session I was Bar Judge (getting "feet" in warm-up, and working the uprights and catching poles) in the Women's Pole Vault Qualification (Group A). Athletes in this group were Grigorieva (AUS), Pyrek (POL), Dragila (USA), Balakhonova (UKR), Garcia (ARG), Isinbayeva (RUS), Feofanova (RUS), Bartova (CZE), Humbert (GER), Whitlock (GBR), Rasmussen (DEN), Elisdottir (ICE), Ammel (FRA), Koleva (BUL), and Szabo (HUN).

I managed to sneak a look at the Men's and Women's 100m Finals during the vault.

DAY 9

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Fortunately, one of my free sessions was the evening that it rained (Men's High Jump Final and Women's 400m Semifinals). Here's the view from the Officials seating (where I was supposed to sit), directly above the finish line. In the morning session I was on Athlete Control in the Women's Heptathlon Long Jump (Group B).

DAY 10

In the morning session I was Landing Assistant (ie. raking the pit) for the Men's Long Jump Qualification (Group A). Athletes in this group included Kofi Prah (GER), Kareem Street-Thompson (CAY), Savantee Stringfellow (USA), and eventual silver medallist "Jumping" Jai Taurima (AUS), and gold medallist Ivan Pedroso (CUB). My favourite jumper was Gregor Cankar (SLO), who sprayed me with sand every time he jumped.

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Here's a photo of Jai Taurima. That's me on the right. This photo was taken early in the competition before I moved my chair to the end of the pit. Trivia: Jai went to school at Kingston State High (just south of Brisbane) and my brother Andrew was one of Jai's teachers.

The evening session was the Women's Pole Vault Final. I was on Athlete Control. During warm-up, I had kept a scorecard with the athlete's requested bar height and upright settings. I then looked at who was next on the runway and indicated to the Bar Judges the desired settings (using sign language when it was noisy). The athletes would see me before their next jump if they wanted to change their settings. We always used a flexibar in warm-up to keep the time delay between jumps to a minimum. I had to organise the athletes for introduction to the crowd and TV.

Athlete Control during the competition involves ensuring that the competitors know when they are jumping next, changing the upright setting indicator board (and ensuring that the Bar Judges have seen it), and ensuring that the athletes remain within the competition area.

The Women's 400m Final (with Cathy Freeman) was held during the vault. The noise on the infield was incredible. It was so loud my ears hurt. Most of the vaulters had their fingers in their ears. The finalists were Dragila (USA), Pyrek (POL), Gao, (CHN), Bartova (CZE), Suttle (USA), Rasmussen (DEN), Grigorieva (AUS), Auer (AUT), Humbert (GER), Gerryts (RSA), Buschbaum (GER), Flosadottir (ISL), and Balakhonova (UKR).

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Stacy Dragila goes clear.

Here are some photo sequences of the medalists. These photos were taken by Herbert Czingnon. His pole vault website has an amazing array of pole vault photos and videos.

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Stacy Dragila (USA)

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Tatiana Grigorieva (AUS)

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Vala Flosadottir (ISL)

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Tatiana, Stacy, and Vala with their medals.

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I met up with some Aussie vaulters and coaches straight after the Women's Pole Vault Final. Here we are standing outside the stadium beneath the Olympic flame. Left to right: Bridget Isworth, Mike Smith (the not so famous decathlete), Mark Stewart (former coach of Emma George), Steve Hooker, Steve Rippon, Nick. Bridget and Steve H. competed in the 2000 World Junior Championships and are coached by Mark Stewart. Steve R. now lives in the UK where he coaches British Olympic reps Kevin Hughes and Janine Whitlock at Loughborough University.

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The following day was the Athletics Rest Day, so we went for a few drinks at the Lidcombe Catholic Workers Club. Left to right: No idea!, Steve Rippon, Mark Stewart, Nick, Mike Smith, Chris Bradshaw (Australian Athletics team doctor).

DAY 11

Day 11 was the Athletics Rest Day. This was a rest day for the Officials, rather than for the Athletes. I really needed the break as the days are long and you don’t get enough sleep at night before you have to get up and do it all again. After the morning sessions I usually found a quiet room in the basement of the stadium and got an hour or so of sleep before the evening session. I always brought my earplugs and eyepatch with me to make sure that I would not be disturbed.

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On the morning of the Rest Day, I met up with Shawn, Glenn, Steve, and his brother Clive. This photo was taken outside a bank in a shopping mall somewhere in the city. Great idea from VISA, but not many shoppers realised what it was for. It took me a while to realize it was for novelty photographs.

DAY 12

Before the evening session, all the Athletics NTOs (National Technical Officials) got kitted out and had a photo session at the stadium. Here’s me as I made my way over to the 100m start for the photo session.

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Here's the photo of the Jumps Officials. That's me in the 4th row, on the far left. I have a copy of this photo (from Sporting Images Australia) on my wall at home.

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Nick tests the starting blocks. (Swatch brought a kid out from Switzerland whose job was to help the technicians check that the blocks worked OK before each session.) This photo was taken in the lunch break before the Men's Pole Vault Qualification. The two parallel vault runways are in the background.

I was Flag Judge (getting "feet" in warm-up, and deciding whether fair jump or foul) for the Men's Pole Vault Qualifying (Group B). Everyone got as many warm-up jumps as they wanted. Five minutes before scheduled start time, and no jumpers on the runway. How often does that happen in Qualification at major meets? Very slick organization by the Sydney Olympics Pole Vault Crew. Using a flexibar in warm-up and having an official to record the athletes’ bar height and upright settings is the way to go.

Here’s a shot of the Men's Pole Vault Qualifying showing Pit B. That's me; near the take-off with the flags.

Here’s a shot of the Men's Pole Vault Qualification showing both pits. Pit B is closest to the camera.

Athletes in Group B were Hysong (USA), Ecker (GER), Stolle (GER), Gibilisco (ITA), Averbukh (ISR), Brits (RSA), Tarasov (RUS), Burgess (AUS), Garcia (ESP), Hughes (GBR), Efremov (BUL), Eriksson (SWE),  Yokahama (JAP), Harting (USA), Johnson (LCA), Andre (POR), Mesnil (FRA), Yurchenko (UKR), and Stefani (CYP).

Kevin Hughes (GBR) is coached by Steve Rippon. Kevin jumped a season’s best of 5.55m, but did not advance to the final.

Click here to go to SYDNEY 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES - ATHLETICS (Part 2)       


 


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Last Updated on: May 2013


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