Australia has an extremely strong association with the Olympic Games, with the 1956 games having been held in Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. Back then Sydney would have found it difficult to have attracted an event like the Olympic games. The city would close down for the day by 6 pm, there was practically no theatre, no nightlife, it was even difficult to get a good meal.
The Sydney of today has changed beyond recognition. A city of parks, superb beaches and coves surrounding the natural harbour, Rose Bay, Double Bay and Mosman bay. Darling Harbour , 640,000 m2 of shops, restaurants, museums and the famous Sydney Aquarium finally leading into Cockle Bar Wharf a centre for wining and dining for the young and prosperous. Sydney´s harbour bridge today one of the worlds best known constructions along with Jorn Utzon´s Opera house which will for the first time become the venue for a sporting event, the Olympic games, hosting the opening competition, the Triathlon.
The lead up to the Olympic Games has created a real buzz and a flurry of building and planning activity in Sydney. The Olympic park situated about 15 km from the central business district or CBD, was completed almost a year ago. By the time the Olympic torch is lit it is estimated that almost 25 million visitors will have been through the Park and will have strolled along Olympic Boulevard gazing at the new stadiums and buildings. That is more than the population of Australia itself.
The site for the Olympic Park was originally a brick factory and an abattoir. This then declined into disuse to become a wasteland of derelict buildings. With the close collaboration of Green peace, the Olympics have given the city the opportunity to regenerate this area into a wonderland full of environmentally friendly developments such as non toxic paints and PVC free piping, the recycled water and the planting of over 200,000 trees. It is now the largest solar powered suburb on Earth.
Technology for the games.
The Sydney Games also bring new technology to the sports arena. Probably the most important and controversial are the new body suits to be worn by the swimmers.
Over 100 years ago at the first of the modern Olympic games in 1896, Olympic swimmers plunged into the Bay of Zea near Piraeus clad in full body which look uncannily similar to those to be worn by this new cadre of 2nd millennium swimmers.
The 21 century swimsuits covers the swimmer in fabrics modelled on sharks, seals and non-stick frying pans.
It is claimed that the suits enhance performance through the reduction of drag in the water and the reduction of muscle vibration and therefore fatigue. Three main manufacturers each claim their place for the Olympics, each backing their medal prospects: Speedo with their Fastskin", Adidas with their "Bodysuit" and the Arena "Powerskin. For details of this events and results, check out www.britannica.com/brit/0,8532,172,00.htm
Stars to look out for
They think, talk, act and run alike - and they're making history together. They are the Harrison brothers - Alvin and Calvin - the first twins to make a US Olympic track team. Both 400m runners they are hoping to run in the 1,600-metres relay final, win gold medals and break the world record. Alvin is virtually assured a place on the relay team, after finishing second to Michael Johnson in the 400 metres at the Olympic trials in Sacramento, Calif., last month. Calvin was fifth at the trials and he is contending with his brother, plus Johnson, third-place finisher Antonio Pettigrew and fourth-place finisher Jerome Young for a spot in the final.
The 26-year-olds resemble each other very closely. US coach John Chaplin had trouble telling them apart at first, introducing them by their wrong names. The brothers still tease him.
A different sport but yet another set of twins. Morgan and Paul Hamm (USA) will be the first twin gymnasts to compete in the Olympics for the United States. States. The 17-year-old twins from Waukesha, Wis., do not anticipate any sibling rivalry. Their selection already has made US Olympic history. There were gymnast brothers who competed in the 1956 Olympics but never twins, said Courtney Caress, communications manager for USA Gymnastics.
The twins' mother, Cecily Hamm, said they were especially supportive of each other at the Boston Olympic trials that ended Aug. 19. Marion Jones (USA) probably the greatest female track and field athlete of all time is set to make the record books, if all goes according to plan. Jones seeks to become the most decorated female athletics gold medallist in a single Games with titles in the 100 and 200-metre events, long jump and 4 x 100m and 4x400 relays.
Carl Lewis attempted it, Jesse Owens almost made it when in just 45 minutes he broke five world records and equalled another in a stirring prelude to his four gold medal haul at the 1936 Berlin Games. Jones seeks to become the most decorated female athletics gold medallist in a single Games with titles in the 100 and 200-metre events, long jump and 4 x 100m and 4x400 relays. Manuel Estiarte (Spain) born in Spain in 1961 a water-polo player who has led all scorers in four straight Olympic Games from 1980 to 1992, he then led Spain to a gold medal in 1996 at Atlanta by scoring 3 goals against Croatia. a water-polo player who has led all scorers in four straight Olympic Games from 1980 to 1992, he then led Spain to a gold medal in 1996 at Atlanta by scoring 3 goals against Croatia. A month before his 38th birthday, he scored four goals in Spain's opening 9-6 win over the defending champion United States in the 1999 World Cup at Sydney.
Barely into her teens, Jaime Moore(GB) had to choose: gymnastics or the trampoline. She made the right choice, trampolining will make its Olympic debut in September and Moore will be the first and only female in the sport to represent Great Britain.
Lars Riedel(GER) This powerful German not only is the defending gold medallist from the 1996 Atlanta Games, but he has four more golds from various World Championships of the 1990s.
Maurice Greene(USA) holds arguably the most coveted title in sports. He is The Fastest Man Alive. But he wants more. Greene's goal is to be mentioned alongside such legends as Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens. His coach, John Smith, has been quoted as saying Greene wants to "carry track-and-field on his back and bring the sport back to America". Greene ran the fastest 100m in history on 16 June 1999 in Athens, finishing in 9.79 seconds. The second fastest time of the year was 9.80, by surprise, surprise, Greene.
Already assured of his place among the all-time greats of long-distance running, Haile Gebrselassie(ETH) can afford to be selective about which races he contests. Through the 1999 World Championships, for example, the Ethiopian legend had run just seven 10,000m races in four years. He won them all, netting three world titles, three world records and an Olympic gold medal along the way.
Gebrselassie has set 15 world records during his career, including the current marks for the 5000m (12:53.72) and the 10,000m (26:22.75). The four-time 10,000m world champion has not lost in that event since August 1993. Known for his powerful kick, he won the 1995 world title by covering the last 200m in just 25.1 seconds.
For further profiles see: www.olympics.com/eng/www.olympics.com/
Points of interest for the Olympic games
Great Britain is the only nation to have attended every Olympic celebration of the modern era, beginning with the first Games in 1896 in Athens. The 2000 Olympic Games will be the first at which Macedonia has been represented as an independent state