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Good or bad? Brazilian v-ball fan in Speedo

8/29/2004

ATHENS, Greece -- We've seen it all during the Olympics,
from alpha to omega. And we've largely kept our opinions to
ourselves.

But not anymore.

From the most enthusiastic fans and infectious chants to the
worst hairdos and attitudes to the most annoyingly overplayed
songs, here's our look at the best and worst of the 2004 Summer
Games:

BEST CHANT: The roaring Greek cries of "Hellas, Hellas" -- as
the country is known here -- which echoed everywhere, but were
deafening during the men's basketball game against the United
States. (We also got caught up in the Lithuanians' rhythmic cheer
of "Lie-tu-va.")

WORST BEHAVIOR: Two displays come to mind. The capacity crowd at
Olympic Stadium whistling and booing -- chanting for disgraced Greek
sprinter Kostas Kenteris -- and delaying the start of the 200-meter
final by four minutes. And the gymnastics fans who booed for 10
minutes because they were unhappy with the high-bar scores the
judges gave Russian Alexei Nemov.

BEST SPORTSMANSHIP: U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps for giving up
his spot in the 400-meter medley relay to rival Ian Crocker, which
allowed Crocker to redeem himself for a disappointing swim earlier.

WORST SPORTSMANSHIP: Germany's Judith Arndt, who won the silver
medal in the women's road race, yet made an obscene gesture toward
her nation's cycling federation officials while crossing the finish
line. Arndt said she was upset that they didn't put her close
friend Petra Rossner on the Olympic team. (Misplaced priorities:
Taekwondo referee Zhao Lei, who still counted out Bertrand Gbongou
Liango from the Central African Republic while he was lying
unconscious from a roundhouse kick to the head before being
hospitalized with a concussion.)

BEST HAIR: Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe, whose blond-tipped
bed-head still looked fabulous, even with the gold medal-winner's
wreath on top of it.

WORST HAIR: Australian basketball player C.J. Bruton, whose
braided 'do resembled a cornrow mohawk. (Furry-backed
Roberto Duenas of the Spanish basketball team qualifies for this
category, as well. The 7-foot-3, 302-pound center is the winner of our
"Wookie of the Year" award.)

BEST HORSE NAME: Air Jordan, a German horse in the three-day
event, which includes jumping.

WORST CROWDS: The abysmally low soccer attendance at satellite
venues in Thessaloniki, Heraklio, Volos and Patras -- except when
the Greeks played, and even they didn't sell out most of their
games. At the Ghana-Paraguay game, the announced attendance was
1,119 among 26,200 seats.

BEST FIREWORKS: The climactic show at the opening ceremony in
Olympic Stadium.

WORST FIREWORKS: Chief Olympic organizer Gianna
Angelopoulos-Daskalaki threw a celebration one day later, with a
pyrotechnics show that caused a fire in the nearby wooded area,
burning out of control for nearly an hour.

BEST BARGAIN: The 2-euro Heinekens on tap at the venues and
media villages. (Though the chocolate-coated ice cream bars for 1
euro and 50 cents also were a favorite.)

WORST FOOD: Anything served at the media villages. Breakfast was
especially bleak, consisting of bland cold cuts, tepid omelets and
concrete croissants.

BEST USE OF COSMETICS: American sprinter Gail Devers, who
painted her famous talons blue to match her uniform.

WORST USE OF COSMETICS: The rhythmic gymnasts. We know you're
trying to color coordinate, but seafoam-green eye shadow and silver
hair glitter are never, ever a good look.

BEST FASHION ACCESSORY: British long jumper Jade Johnson's
snazzy red fishnet stockings.

WORST FASHION ACCESSORY: The plastic strap barely holding up
Jamaican Veronica Campbell's top as she ran the anchor leg of the
400-meter relay. Her team won the gold, but her outfit was a
wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen.

BEST FANS: Hard to choose. The mighty, tightly packed Lithuanian
basketball fans, dressed in their country's green, yellow and red,
resembled the produce section at a grocery store. The Japanese, in
matching samurai garb, were vocal and organized at baseball. And
then there was the overweight Brazilian beach volleyball fan in a
green-and-yellow wig, tight yellow Superman costume and blue Speedo
trunks.

WORST ATTITUDE: U.S. super heavyweight Jason Estrada, who
performed dismally in a quarterfinal loss to Cuba's Michel Lopez
Nunez, then infuriated his coaches by telling reporters it didn't
matter since he's focusing on his upcoming pro career: "If I'm
going to lose, I'm going to lose getting hit as little as possible.
I'd rather not get hit at all."

BEST SONGS AT VENUES: The "Zorba the Greek" theme, which never
grew tiresome. "Miserlou" by Dick Dale. "Are You Gonna Be My
Girl" by Jet. "Music" by Madonna. Barry Manilow's
"Copacabana."

WORST SONGS AT VENUES: "La Bamba." "Love Shack" by the
B-52's. "Who Let the Dogs Out" by the Baha Men. "Tie Me Kangaroo
Down." Barry Manilow's "Copacabana."

MOST OVERPLAYED SONG: The Venga Boys' "We Like to Party."
Since the games started 2½ weeks ago, it feels like this insanely
catchy electronic ditty has been playing at some sporting event or
soiree every second of every day. (Or maybe it's just stuck in our
heads.)