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|| News Item: Posted 2004-09-08

Olympic Memories: Amy Sancetta
'I never escape without being choked up a few times, or cheering for some kid who will never step up on the winners platform.'

By Amy Sancetta, Associated Press

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Photo by Robert Hanashiro / USA TODAY

Svetlana Khorkina: "That girl was scary skinny," said Amy Sancetta.
Athens, ah ... I have never sweated so much from my head in all my life. And that was when I was working inside at the gymnastics.

And the thought of having to even see another cheese pie makes my stomach upset.

After all the worries about last minute construction and slow ticket sales and the big bad guys so nearby, these games were a very pleasant surprise. And really, any hassles you encounter along the way are way wiped out by seeing some kid from Italy do the high bar routine of his life and win a gold medal he never imagined would ever be around his neck.

I love the Olympics, and am a big sap about the whole darned thing. I never escape without being choked up a few times, or cheering for some kid who will never step up on the winners platform.
I shot one night of weightlifting and got to see the giant from Iran in two lifts win a gold medal and then break his own world record. I got to see total underdogs Australia upset heavily favored Netherlands in men's field hockey for the gold.

I shot the final day of water polo, using the bronze game to just figure out what the heck was going on, and the gold game to realize that this sport is pretty cool. And I spent the first 10 days being a giant among the pixies at gymnastics.

I hated gymnastics as a kid and always tried to get out of doing in gym class, but I have become quite fond of covering it. This year, to see Carly Patterson and Paul Hamm win all around titles and Russian Svetlana Khorkina perform her final time was a thrill. My hope for the scarily skinny Khorkina is that when she walked off the gym floor pouting after falling from the unevens in her final international competition, that she went straight to a "What-A-Burger" and ordered a double. That girl was scary skinny.

The hardest part about covering gymnastics this time around was the constant monitoring and rough handling by the TV folks. I will accept being ordered about by the IOC ---It's their show and I figure they can make the rules --- but to be corralled and pushed about by TV, well, that's another story. TV made up a rule there that we were only permitted to shoot the athletes while they were competing, but not while they were on the benches. I felt that didn't even warrant a consideration.

Totally ridiculous.

Hopefully this problem will not escalate in Beijing. so all in all, it was really a great experience. My balcony at the Maroussi Media Village looked out over the tennis venue and I awoke in the morning to the ping ping ping of Henin or Marresmo or Roddick practicing.

I've never before been able to just walk to my events, and that was totally great. The train at Irini station across from the main gate made for a fast and easy getaway for a nice Greek Salad meal in Iraclia before work. I befriended a couple of the stray dogs there and sure wish I could have brought them home.

And speaking of coming home, when I got to the Athens airport I checked in and then looked for a little bite to eat. and right there, glowing like a beacon of hope, was a stand that said "Donuts" across the top in hopeful happy letters. as I approached the counter, I could see the trays laid out in the counter and I imagined a Krispy Kreme high coming on. But as I got close enough to read the signs for the different delights, I had to laugh ... ugh ... all cheese pies! What's up with that?!

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