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Sydney 2000 Olympic Games - Let the Games Begin


Crowd waiting to enter the stadium for the Opening Ceremony

Check out the crowd waiting to get in for the Opening Ceremony. Me? I'm on my way the VIP entrance. Just one of the many benefits of being a member of "The Olympic Family".

Officials at the Opening.Ceremony

All the Athletics Judges got a free ticket to the Opening Ceremony. This is the Officials Seating, just below "Emperor" Samaranch and "Lord" Gosper.

Gymnasts perform at the Opening Ceremony

One the guys performing the giant circles in this contraption is EXSS student and NSWIS gymnast, Ian Bartlett. I tried hard, but could not work out which one is Ian.

Dominic Johnson with flag

Dominic Johnson carries the flag for St. Lucia.


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In the morning I went to see the Ozzie gymnasts, Phil Rizzo and Damian Istria, compete in Qualifying. I couldn't complain about my front row seat. Note the swelling downstairs. Looks like you guys have done a few too many "battered savs"!  (Roy and H.G. joke from "The Dream".)

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I went to the Athletics training track every day before the Athletics competitions got started. On the runway in this photo is Thorey Elisdottir (ISL). Thorey jumped 4.15m in Qualifying and did not advance. She used to be a gymnast. At first I assumed she meant rhythmic gymnastics (because she's 1.81m tall). Thorey competed in the 1996 European Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Birmingham. Waiting to jump after Thorey is Vala Flosadottir (ISL). Shortly after this photo was taken, Vala found out that I was a pole vault judge and tried to bribe me with a large sum of money and an Icelandic Olympic Pin. In accordance with the new Olympic guidelines on corruption, I refused the money but kept the pin. Vala's "investment" paid dividends as she was the first Icelandic woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze). In the Final, Vala had a clean sheet up to 4.50m and looked a good chance for the gold medal. However, Stacy and Tatiana had something to say about that.

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Here's Stani Szczyrba.  Stani is a Pole who coaches Vala and Thorey (seated and looking frustrated) in Malmo, Sweden. Stani's son, Pawel, has a p.b. of 5.40m and competed for Poland in the 2000 World Junior Championships.

In the evening I went with my sister to watch Men's Preliminary Hockey matches, Canada vs Pakistan, and Malaysia vs Germany.


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Swimming was a joke! Apparently there are some swimmers in this photo. And this from only half way up stand. You can't see jack! No observations of the latest nuances in swimming technique from my seat. The stand was so high that every 10 minutes I needed to come back down to sea level to regain my breath. This photo is of one of the morning heats. The crowd cheered everything and anything, which is good, but they went berserk if an Ozzie (eg Grant Hackett or Ian Thorpe) was in a close battle, when even a little knowledge of swimming would tell you that they were trying to conserve a bit of energy for the final. For me, watching the Olympic swimming was like eating a meringue, all atmosphere and no substance. (But I must admit, the atmosphere was very thick at times.)

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Back to the Athletics Training Track. Igor Potapovich (KAZ) and his father (right). Igor was 4th in Atlanta, and was unlucky to miss a medal. He was jumping huge (6.00m+). Igor won the World Indoor Champs in 1997, but his performances declined in 2000. He had a best for the year of only 5.40m. Igor's father coaches Alex Garcia in Argentina (hence the Argentinian tracksuit). Igor and Alex visited Oz with some other Argentinians (including former Qld Uni javelin thrower, Alan Dashwood) in February 2000 to check out the Olympic venues.

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Australians; Lauren Poetschka (400m Hurdles), Rohan Robinson (400m Hurdles), Grant Cremer (800m), Peter Burge (Long Jump), Craig Hilliard (coach), Keith Connor (coach).

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Svetlana Feofanova (RUS) playing with her Game Boy. Too much "fun time" and not enough "serious" training if you ask me! Is this what you call a "tapered" training program? You may have got a new High Score on Donkey Kong, but it's not quite the same as actually clearing a bar in the biggest competition of the year. (All three Russians "no heighted" in Qualifying.) I am too harsh?

Note the Powerade bottle. Coca-Cola (manufacturers of Powerade) were one of the Olympic sponsors, so there was an endless supply of free drink for athletes and officials. I drank heaps of the stuff, and provided my overseas visitors (staying at my place) with a well-stocked fridge.

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Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) unpacking her things. Hey, Yevgeniy, get out of the way! Yevgeniy Bondarenko is one of the Russian coaches, and a former top pole vaulter. He is one BIG dude (1.92m tall).

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Yevgeniy checks out the video replay with Yelena Belyakova (RUS).

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Zsuzsanna Szabo (HUN) in training. Zsu is a former Indoor World Record holder, but had a frustrating time in practice and a shocker in Qualifying. As a coach, you know you're in trouble when your athlete is in pit, sobbing, just 6 days before the Qualifying competition.

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Nick Hysong (USA) sweating it out in practice. It was barely out of winter and Sydney with blessed with unseasonally warm weather and clear blue skies. Nick certainly brought his lucky charms with him on this trip. Most people tipped him to be in with a fighting chance of a medal, but he put it together when it mattered most and came away with the gold (and a new p.b. of 5.90m). Dominic Johnson (SLA) is in the background doing what he does best (skipping).

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I went with my sister again to see Women's Preliminary Hockey matches (Korea vs Spain, and Germany vs South Africa). How good is the Olympic crowd control and transport system? From "bum on seat" in the Hockey grandstand to opening my front door in (...  wait for it) ...  25 minutes!


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Trouble with the Australian 4000m Team Pursuit. One of the bikes did not pass equipment inspection. (There are regulations regarding seat and handlebar position so as to effectively prohibit the "superman" position.) With only seconds to spare, a replacement bike had to found and used. Nice work guys! Also saw the Men's and Women's Sprint Qualifying.

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Baseball (Japan vs Cuba). I almost grabbed a foulball as an Olympic souvenir. Some guys were more experienced than me at this sort of thing. They jumped the fence, grabbed the ball, and ran back into the crowd to avoid the security.


My guests arrived this morning. Staying at my place for the Olympics were:

Steve Rippon – UK Athletics High Performance Manager of the facility at Loughborough University. Steve is also a Promotions rep for Pacer (vaulting poles).

Dave "T-Shirt" Gordon – Owner of a t-shirt business and former Welsh pole vault international.

Ralf Iwan – German pole vault coach (Lars Borgeling, Elmarie Gerryts, Monique DeWilt).

Glenn Stewart – Sport Science Manager with the West Coast Eagles (an AFL team in Perth). Glenn is a former Australian rep in the long jump.

Shawn Sorenson – Mechanical Engineering student from Rice University. Shawn was on exchange for a year at the University of Queensland, and is webmaster of Kangaroo’s Triple Jump Online (triple jump website).

I went to the Athletics Training Track on my way to checking into the Officials Village at the University of Sydney. I then watched the Women's 69 kg Weightlifting at the Sydney Convention Centre.


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Javier Garcia (SPA) making sure his left shoe goes on his left foot. Javier was the surprise bronze medalist in Barcelona '92. (He jumped at p.b. levels, and the home crowd went wild.) Not a contender in Sydney.

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Maksim Tarasov (RUS) getting some last minute practice. He jumps on Pacer Carbon. Max won gold in Barcelona '92 and is the reigning World Champion from Seville '99. His face has healed from his nasty altercation with the crossbar, but he's got one big and beautiful scar. Watching are Yevgeniy Bondarenko and Denis Yurchenko's coach (see below). Max was the favourite for gold in Sydney. He jumped well, but did not dominate, and finished with the bronze behind Nick Hysong (USA) and Lawrence Johnson (USA).

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This is the young Ukrainian, Denis Yurchenko. Denis is best known as the guy who caught his gonads on the end of his pole in Qualifying. I was the Flag Judge on his pit and so got an up-close view of all. Denis was not the first to suffer this indignity, and nor will he be the last. You can tell the guys who have suffered a similar fate. They're the ones with caps over the ends of all their poles, and who use a BIG push of the pole to the side when clearing the bar. Aussie vaulter, Paul Burgess, is a member of the "gonads in a jar" club. Watch how he always pushes his pole away to the side.

You can watch a video of Denis Yurchenko's nasty accident here.


Training sessions for the Officials at the Olympic Stadium.

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Here are some photo sequences of Sergey Bubka having a go at 6.10 m (with an elastic bar). Unfortunately Sergey 'bombed' in Qualifying and did not make it to the Final. These photos were taken by Herbert Czingnon. His pole vault website has an amazing array of pole vault photos and videos.

Click here to go to SYDNEY 2000 OLYMPIC GAMES - ATHLETICS (Part 1)


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Last Updated on: May 2013

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