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Fading Stars

Posted August. 23, 2004 22:03,   


World-class stars plunged one after another during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.

On August 23, the final round of the women’s uneven bar event took place at the Olympic Indoor Hall. The so-called queen of gymnastics, Svetlana Khorkina from Russia, received the entire spotlight for she was aiming for her third straight gold medal, a feat no other gymnastic athlete had ever achieved.

The asymmetric bar was Khorkina’s main event, which she had won at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. During this year’s Olympics, she slipped and fell to the ground while performing her act. Although she climbed back up to the bars and finished, the damage was already done: her final score was 8.925 the lowest of the eight finalists. As soon as it was over, she packed up and left the indoor hall. It may have been a coincidence, but she lost gold medals at the 2000 Sydney games at the women’s team competition and individual all-around event when she made a mistake and slipped from the bars.

The women’s world marathon record holder at 2 hours 15 minutes 25 seconds, Paula Radcliffe, a British, was a heavy favorite to win the women’s marathon. However, even Radcliffe, known as the “woman of steel,” could not hold her own against the brutal heat of Athens that measured 35 degrees Celsius. She began to huff after running 10 km and 26 km later she stopped running and dropped to the ground crying.

Gail Devers, a 37-year old American veteran who participated in her fifth straight Olympic, boasted that she would win at her main event: the women’s 100m hurdle competition. Unfortunately, even before she jumped passed the first hurdle, she grabbed her taped left ankle and fell in deep pain.

Sung-Kyu Kim kimsk@donga.com