Much has been made about the roof of Athens Olympic Stadium.
Designed by Barcelona architect Santiago Calatrava,
the roof makes the stadium one of, if not the, most unique athletic structures
in the world. Standing miles north of the Acropolis, it is fitting
that the return of the Olympics to its ancient birthplace is marked by another
architectural wonder, one that may come to signify modern Greece in the
same fashion that the Parthenon inarguably remains the enduring symbol of
On Thursday night, that roof shook, as Greek fans that had bought their
tickets months ago with hopes to see their hero, Konstantinos
Kenteris, win gold showed their disgust. For almost ten
minutes, delaying the start of the 200-meters, we heard the roars of "HELLAS!"
and "KENTERIS!" It was the sound of a people searching for their champion.
The starters, for their part, tried. But the runners couldn't hear
them. One aborted start, because Namibian sprinting legend Frankie Fredericks - in his last race - could
not hear. Then a false start. This was not the way a marquee
event is supposed to go down. One Greek television commentator likened
it to a soccer match, finding it to be completely inappropriate behavior.
Another felt that Greeks needed to vent their frustrations over losing their
top medal hope in a scandal.
And then they ran. And the Americans swept - Shawn Crawford, Bernard
Williams, and 100m champion Justin Gatlin.
With this race, with all said and done, the American men took eight of the
nine medals in the 100m, 200m, and 400m.
And they got booed. It isn't easy to be an American these days.
Shawn Crawford, winner of the men's 200-meters