A look back at the Olympics

Updated: August 28, 2004, 11:48 PM ET
By Jim Caple | ESPN.com

Swimming, Men's 200 freestyle. It was the race that prevented Phelps from matching Mark Spitz's mark of seven gold medals but this race matched three of the greatest swimmers in history - Phelps, Ian Thorpe and Pieter van den Hoogenband - with Thorpe winning in Olympic record time. "How can I be disappointed?'' Phelps asked. "I swam in a field with two of the fastest freestylers of all time, and I was right there with them.''

Best competition
Women's soccer, final. It was the final game for several of the veterans who formed the soul of women's soccer the past 15 years and it also was one of the most dramatic they've ever played, with the U.S. winning 2-1 in double-overtime on a header by Abby Wambach. "These 120-minute games are making me think about retirement, too,'' Kristine Lilly said.
Track, Men's 100 meter. The day before the race, Maurice Greene said, "We're going to have a party tomorrow night -- and everybody's invited.'' Everybody but world record holder and BALCO-stained Tim Montgomery. No one missed him. The premiere event of track and field was one for the ages with American Justin Gatlin winning by one-hundredth of a second and the top four finishers separated by four-hundredths of a second.

Most Olympic gesture
Athens taxi drivers can be rude -- if they don't like your shouted destination, they'll just roll up the window and ignore you - but one cabbie did them proud by returning a silver medal that a Dutch passenger had left in the back seat.
Phelps gave up his spot on the final relay team so that teammate Ian Crocker could race instead and salvage what had been an otherwise disappointing Olympics for Crocker. True, it was of little sacrifice to Phelps -- because he had raced in the prelims, it allowed him to win a gold while sitting in the stands for the U.S. victory -- but it's a damn sight better than anything we saw from the gymnastics federation.
Israeli windsurfer Gal Fridman won his country's first ever gold medal and dedicated it to the 11 Olympians slain at the 1972 Munich Olympics. "I felt like the whole country was watching me and pushing me from behind.''

Jim Caple | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com