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|| News Item: Posted 2004-09-08

Olympic Memories: Al Diaz
'It was also my first time covering a USA Gold Medalist. A thrilling experience.'

By Al Diaz, Miami Herald

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

Looks like Miami Herald Staff Photographer Al Diaz is the only one having a good time during the Swimming Competition at the Olympic Aquatic Centre Athens 2004 Olympic Games.
I've never seen so many photographers, not even at a Super Bowl!

There are more than 1,000, distributing on a daily basis 30,000 pictures to approximately 15,000 newspapers in over 202 countries and I am one of them.

There are so many memorable moments covering so many events but one of the highlights was shooting Gary Hall in the Men's 50-Meter Freestyle. He came out blazing in a red, white and blue star spangled robe. He looked like he was pumped up for a boxing match more than a swimming competition clasping his fists and pumping them in the air.

He backed up his bravado by winning the Gold Medal. It was also my first time covering a USA Gold Medalist. A thrilling experience.

On day 15 I finally got some much needed rest after pulling a couple of 20-hour days. It was just in time to be fresh for several hours covering Athletics at Olympic Stadium.

I was all over pole vaulter Toby Stevenson on his impressive flight hitting 19 feet 4 1/4 inches, only to be nudged out of the Gold by teammate Timothy Mack with a Mack attack vault of 19-6 1/4 inches. Toby is great to photograph with all his antics, throwing his helmet, jumping and flailing about with the excitement of a victor.

Photo by Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Photo by Al Diaz / Miami Herald

Toby Stevenson of the United States celebrates after clearing the bar for a possible Gold Medal during the Men's Pole Vault on Friday, August 27, 2004 at Olympics Stadium.
Today will be a change of pace with my special request to my Knight-Ridder/Tribune photo editors to cover rhythmic gymnastics. My wife Cindy loves the sport. This will be followed by basketball and the USA's struggle to win a medal in that event.

Which reminds me of opening night and seeing NBA star Yao Ming, the flag bearer for China , he towered above all others, it was a sight to see all the many star athletes photographing him. The most difficult part for me has been deciding where to be at any particular event. The start, the finish, go tight go wide. At times I have the opportunity to use a remote camera but its not enough.

It's very competitive to get many of the best positions. I have had to arrive three hours before an event to hold my spot. Add the two to three hours just to get there by Olympic bus transportation after waiting on the hot assault with no shade. Temperatures have reached here in the 100 degrees.

No matter what, there is always the chance to capture the magic in a great photograph of the world's greatest athletes, but I want to capture it all.

Like almost everyone else, I shoot all digital along with a team of seven talented photographers gathered together from various Knight-Ridder newspapers. They include, Patrick Schneider, Karl Mondon, Julian Gonzalez, Dave Eulitt, Ron Cortes, Joe Rossi and Nhat Meyer.

After every event we scramble to transmit our images via Internet access or dial-up to the KRT, file transfer protocol site before proceeding to our next venue. Awaiting to process the photos are three KRT photo editors, George Bridges, Harry Walker and Alan Greth. They disperse the images to our clients and newspapers around the globe.

The days are winding down and like many others I look forward to coming home with regrets that it will soon be over.

Related Links:
Al Diaz' member page

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