Graham tells us how much he enjoyed the Athens Olympic Games
Well, the 2004 Olympic Games are over, and how was it for you? Every four years, I say that I will not get sucked into watching the television day after day, especially as one never knows whether a winning athlete has been cheating or not; every four years I end up glued to the screen but this time I was pleasantly surprised that so little drug taking went on which means that these Greek games were particularly enjoyable.
Greece had a hard act to follow in trying to match the Sydney Games. However, their organisation and security were every bit as good. As for the opening ceremony, I found it just as good as Sydney's but in a totally different Grecian way. The closing night was also eminently watchable but became a bit "samey" towards the end. The Olympic Stadium was not only finished on time but was stunning, and all the support services, buses, metro, roads, etc., backed up first-rate organisation.
As to the actual events, Britain did incredibly well to come away with 30 medals in total. There were so many amazing achievements throughout the sixteen days that it is impossible to mention them all. However, I feel that I must mention the incredibly dedicated Kelly Holms for her two gold medals in the 800 and 1500 metres and also Michael Phelps for his amazing success in the pool. Thirdly, the achievement of Miss Isinbeyeva of Russia must not go unnoted because she broke the world record for the Pole Vault.
In my three favourite moments to savour from the Games, the latter incident contains the best. Isinbeyeva had beaten Miss Feofanova, also of Russia, to win the Pole Vault. For some reason, the girls did not get on with each other and Isinbeyeva's winning vault was greeted by Feofanova with indifference. However, when Isinbeyeva decided to up the bar to try and break the world record - and did - a wonderful smile spread across her compatriot's face that broke so much ice - a wonderful moment.
My other two enduring memories are firstly the look on Kelley Holmes' face when sghe realised that she had indeed won the 800 metres, and the look of sheer joy on Vanderlin de Lima's face when he secured the Bronze Medal for Brazil in the Marathon. The fact that he had almost certainly been deprived of Gold by an idiot spectator who bundled him into the crowd, didn't seem to worry him at all.
The low not of the games, I felt, came in the men's gymnastics when Alexi Nemev of Russia was very badly marked for a near-faultless routine on the bars. The crowd's hostility to this was such that the marks were re-graded upwards, a very dangerous precedent in my book but the only fair thing to do. It transpired afterwards, that political considerations were at work which was quite disgraceful.
My "nearly" medal goes to the Iraqi football team who got through to the Bronze Medal play-off before losing 1 - 0 to Italy. This was a remarkable achievement when you consider that their former coach, a German, stated that not one of their players would get into an English league side. And finally, my "Surprise" medal goes to the Swiss Beach Volleyball team. Where do they play at home?
My last words on the Olympic Games are concerning the BBC coverage. I thought that it was quite brilliant and being able to watch so many minority sports was most enjoyable. Those who resent paying their TV Licence Fee, should ponder on the fact that without such an organisation, we would not have been able to see about 80% of what we were fortunate enough to view.
Roll on Beijing in 2008 - that's what I say.