SCOOP OLYMPIC UPDATE Friday, 29 Sept, 2000
SCOOP OLYMPIC UPDATE, Friday, 29 Sept, 2000
Article: Mathew Loh
NEW ZEALAND'S last real hope, barring an absolute miracle, of a medal was lost on Sydney Harbour, Thursday when the Kiwi Soling crew of Rod Davis, Alan Smith and Don Cowie were beaten in a sudden-death sail-off by the Netherland's.
Despair among the NZ sailors was equaled by Dutch elation as their appeal which saw them earn the sail-off, after a rule botch-up, was vindicated by an excellent on-the-water victory to send them into the medal round.
It was an almost inevitable disappointment in an Olymics soon to be known among sports-mad Kiwis as the 27th 'OlympiSAD' as once again the rub of the grain and failure to perform at crucial times ruined New Zealand hopes of medal glory.
A prime example of Kiwi beef, freestyle wrestler Martin Liddle also was in action on day 13 and unfortunately only reinforced the perception of Kiwi inadequacy with a prime example of being totally outclassly by far superior international opposition.
While NZ's efforts fail to inspire description the Olympics again turned in a day of awesome action.
Leading the way was Greek sprinter Konstantinos Kenteris who launched himself around the track like a human missile to upset the favourites to make history as Greece's first track winner with a spectacular suprise victory.
The look of despair on pre-race favourite Trinidad and Tobago's Ato Boldon who finished third was only matched by the wide-eyed stare of incredulous delight from the Greek gold-medalist who won his moment of sporting glory by sprinting the 200 metres in the fastest time of his life.
Along with their world-class weightlifters Kenteris would have delighted his country-men who will enjoy their time in the Sydney limelight as a prelude to their own big show in Athlens 2004.
The other highlight of the night on the track belonged to the incredible Marion Jones who collected the second of the five gold medals she has publically stated she aims to bag.
Inside the track a wonderful battle for the Olympic men's long-jump took centre stage between the sensational Cuban, double world-champion, Ivan Pedroso and a Australian upstart of Maori heritage - the extremely exciting Jai Taurimu.
With the capacity crowd psyching him up Taurimu threw down the gauntlet to Pedroso and revealed his class as a rising star of umlimited potential by making a fabulous fifth jump of 8 metres 49. This put the hometown hero in first place and all the pressure was on Pedroso who was obviously desperate to add Olympic gold to his world championship success.
And with all the drama only a battle between two world-class athletes with attitude can provide it was up to the Cuban, on his sixth and final jump, to propel his rippling lithe frame further than the challenger to his throne.
Enjoying the support from a fair Australian crowd Pedroso prepared for the jump of his life and sprinted to the board and took on a leap into Olympic history.
Landing 8 metres 55 from take-off Pedroso highlighted his world-beating talents by retaking first place and Taurimu needed a miracle jump to secure gold.
Under enormous pressure Taurimu tried his best but the jumping-pit was Cuban territory and the gold medal Pedroso's and on realising his life-long ambition had been realised the champion crumpled to the ground in obvious emotional relief and utter uninhibited joy.