The games of the 28th summer olympiad returned to the birthplace of the Olympics - Athens, Greece. The games ran from August 13 to 29th 2004. Athens hosted 11,099 athletes, the largest number ever and also the most women athletes (40 %). Representatives from 202 countries took part, more than any other sports event and all but 5 countries sent women atheletes. The Olympic flame traveled for the first time to all continents. The shot put event was held in Olympia - the site of the ancient Olympic games. The Marathon was run from Marathonas to the Panathinaiko stadium (venue of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896). In essence the runners were running the route run by Phidippides after the battle of Marathon in whose honor the Marathon race was created. A record 4 billion viewers watched the games. Sailing Olympic winner Nikos Kaklamanakis, lit the Olympic torch which pivoted downwards, bringing symbolically together earth and sky and then slowly lifted upwards above the Athens Olympic Stadium. Michael Phelps won 8 medals (6 gold) in swimming and tied for the most number of medals won in a single Olympics. The top 3 medal winning nations at the end of the games were: USA 103 medals (35 gold, 39 silver, 29 bronze); Russia 92 medals (27 gold, 27 silver, 38 bronze); China 63 medals (32 gold, 17 silver, 14 bronze). The games were also overshadowed by controversies. The antidoping committe caught 22 atheletes with drug doping violations during the games - a record. Famouse Greek atheletes Kostas Kenteris the 200 mtr Sydney Olympic winner and Katerina Thanou were banned from the games for failing to provide timely samples. The judging for the Men's Individual All-Around Gymnastic medal regarding Paul Hamm (US gold medalist) and Young Yang Tae (S. Korea bronze medalist) concerned incorrect scoring. The most unforgettable moment in the entire Olmpics might be the sportsmanship and courage shown by Brazilian Vanderlei Lima who won the bronze. He was attacked by a defrocked Irish priest Cornelius Horan while he was leading the race about 3 miles from the finish. For his performance Lima also got the presitigious Pierre de Coubertin award for excellence as an athelete. However the closing ceremony ended on a positive note. IOC president Jacues Rogge asked "the youth of the world to assemble in 4 years time in Beijing for the games of the 29th Olympiad"!- Written by Sujit R. Varma
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