The Olympic Games

Panathinaiko Stadium003.JPG (83241 bytes) I made it!  After a very long trip, I made it to Greece.  Here I am the first night in front of Panathinaiko Stadium on my way home from the beach volleyball matches. Vball Greece v China004.JPG (80994 bytes) The very first event I went to upon arrival was beach volleyball where I saw Greece upset China.  They announced that this was the first full stadium of the games!  Go Greece!
Germans vs Aus Vball005.JPG (83227 bytes) In the 2nd match, I saw the Gold medalists from the 2000 Olympics lose to the team from Germany in a close 3 setter.  A great way to start my Olympic expeience! Germans vs Aus Vball009.JPG (92644 bytes) The stadium cleared out a bit after the Greek match and so I moved down a few rows to these seats.  Not bad!  Anyone want to join me?
Vball Greece Fans002.JPG (104171 bytes) The Greek fans were loudly supporting their duo in the upset.  The flags were waving and the fans were dancing!  It gave me chills listening to them cheer during the match.  Greek Beach Players001.JPG (85293 bytes) As I was leaving the stadium, the players from Greece were greeting some of their fans.  Just my luck, I couldn't help, but grab a picture!:)
Bball US v Australia052.JPG (93501 bytes) The challenge of my 2nd day was to get in and watch USA men basketball vs. Australia.  Somehow I ended up sitting on press row! Bball US v Australia039.JPG (97798 bytes) The Australians dominated the first 3 quarters, but Iverson and Duncan were able to help USA pull out the victory in the 4th period.
Bball US v Australia054.JPG (87205 bytes) This was my first chance to watch Lebron in person.  Here he is finishing an alley oop in the 4th period.  A little lazy on defense, but he is a stud!  Sorry for the fuzziness of the pic! Bball US v Australia041.JPG (92038 bytes) Iverson and Duncan are obviously the heart of the team, but Shawn Marion also had a great game.  Here he is throwing one down!
Bball US v Australia042.JPG (84348 bytes) Defense is clearly not something the Americans like to do, but here AI at least pretends to play a little.  Bball US v Australia036.JPG (92081 bytes) Why the Americans don't go in to Duncan every time, I don't know?   Here is Duncan scoring 2 of his game high 18 points. 
Bball US v Australia018.JPG (79280 bytes) Stephen A. Smith and I talked a little hoops on press row as we watched the game!  Look for comments from me on ESPN as filtered by Smith!:) Bball US v Australia032.JPG (95284 bytes) The halftime show was quite entertaining as these guys jumped off the trampoline and dunked.  White boys can jump after all!  We just need a trampoline.
Softball Italy v Jpn001.JPG (99046 bytes) After bball, I went and watched a couple games of softball.  In the first game the Italians took on Japan.  I sat & cheered with the rather vocal, but losing Italian side. Softball Italy v Jpn004.JPG (97328 bytes) This was a rather common site for the Italians.  Ball in catchers glove and bat on shoulder as the Japanese pitcher consistently threw 70 mph!
Softball Aus v Canad001.JPG (91225 bytes) Game #2 was Australia vs. Canada.  I went from rooting against Australia in bball to cheering them on to victory in softball.  Softball Aus v Canad003.JPG (94684 bytes) It was a picturesque day in Athens at the stadium.  Here is a picture from my seats for the 2nd game.  These were primo foul ball seats!
Softball Aus v Canad006.JPG (128404 bytes) After getting a volleyball the night before at beach volleyball, I added to my collection of Olympic balls with this foul ball caught with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th of the last game.:) Bball US v Australia062.JPG (83538 bytes) Here I am outside the basketball venue.  The basketball, softball, baseball, and fencing venues are all within a stone's throw of one another along the Med Sea.
Bch Vball Greek Day2004.JPG (118711 bytes) I had forgotten to get a souveneir pin at beach volleyball the night before so I finished my 2nd day by watching more beach volleyball.  Bch Vball Greek Day2008.JPG (128404 bytes) Watching the Greek athletes get cheered on is awesome.  For the 2nd night in a row, I saw a Greek volleyball team pull off an upset in beach volleyball to the rousing support of the crowd.
Helliniko Olympic Complex.JPG (37753 bytes) The day began in rather frustrating style as I tried to get to table tennis.  But 3 hours later, I arrived too late to justify the cost of the ticket.  So I headed back to the Helliniko Complex. Bball US v ESP Day 3012.JPG (128231 bytes) Fortunately all was not lost as I was able to get in to see the USA women’s hoops team defeat Spain.  The team was all smiles as they gathered at halfcourt after the game!
Bball US v ESP Day 3002.JPG (136085 bytes) The ladies team from America stood tall as Lisa Leslie led the way.  It was sad to see how few people were at the game, but that allowed me to have great seats. Bball Cze vKor Day 3003.JPG (120868 bytes) In the 2nd game I saw the Czech team totally dominated the Koreans.  I watched the first half of this game amidst the rowdy fans from Czech before leaving for softball. 
Softb Greece vs Aus 021.JPG (128491 bytes) After bball I went and saw Greece and Australia play in softball.   The Greek team was supported mightily by their fans, just as had been the case at the beach volleyball.  Go Greece! Softb Greece vs Aus 018.JPG (127076 bytes) Despite being the underdogs, the Greeks more than held their own against the 2nd seeded team from Australia.  Here Sara Farnworth singles to load the bases in the bottom of the 7th down 3-2. 
Softb Greece vs Aus 023.JPG (132397 bytes) Unfortunately, the Greeks did not get the runner home and lost 3-2. The “local favorites” ended the Olympics in a close game and more than gave their fans something to cheer about. Softb Greece vs Aus 032.JPG (114080 bytes) After the game the gals on the team came out to greet their friends, family, & fans.  Here I am with Greece’s star pitcher, catcher and shortstop who happen to be 2 sisters and a cousin who I met the day before.
Softbal Jpn vs China001.JPG (132525 bytes) The 2nd game of the night featured China vs. Japan.  Japan had to win to qualify for the medal round and the pitcher threw a no hitter to get them in.  The Japanese fans loved it! Byzantine Church002.JPG (134660 bytes) You gotta love Greece.  In the midst of one of the main roads with shops all around it stands this beautiful Greek Orthodox Church from the Byzantine period!
Acropolis Night.JPG (123905 bytes) After 2 days in Athens at events, it was time to see the Acropolis.  So I went out with a random collection of people for dinner near the Acropolis.  The picture does not do it justice. Psara's Greek Dinner.JPG (133095 bytes) Here is the group of us who went to dinner at Psara’s.   The other guy in the white just so happened to be competing in Windsurfing and was good friends with La Canada’s own Peter Wells.   Small World!
Oaka Complex013.JPG (136523 bytes) Day #4 took me to the main Olympic Complex in Athens called Oaka in order to watch tennis.  I saw 3 outstanding medal matches..  Ten Men Bronze Medal016.JPG (132353 bytes) In the first match of the day I saw American Taylor Dent lose the bronze to Chile's Fernando Gonzalez 16-14 in the 3rd set.  Not only did Chile win the match, but their fans put the USA fans to shame in spirit.
Ten LadiesGold Medal025.JPG (121795 bytes) Next, I got to see Justine Henin-Hardenne win the gold over Amelie Mauresmo from my front row seats.  It was a dominating performance. Ten LadiesGold Medal076.JPG (128150 bytes) Henin-Hardenne was all smiles as she walked off the court with her gold medal.  Also pictured are Mauresmo with the silver and Alicia Molik with her bronze medal.
Ten Men Dub Gold Med007.JPG (131696 bytes) As if Fernando Gonzalez bronze medal marathon match was not enough for the day, he came back out for the gold medal doubles match against Germany.  Ten Men Dub Gold Med015.JPG (129523 bytes) After 3 hrs 45 min and 5 sets, Gonzalez and partner Nicholas Massu had gold in their hand.  Understandably excited, they celebrated their victory for Chile.
Ten Men Dub Gold Med020.JPG (137455 bytes) Though the matches did not end until 3 am, I saw over 10 hours of high quality Olympic medal tennis.  What a treat it continues to be here at these Olympics!  Ten Men Dub Gold Med017.JPG (125787 bytes) The first day I got a volleyball from the beach volleyball.  The third day ended catching a foul ball at softball.  As tennis ended the umpire threw me a tennis ball from the match!  What a finish to a great day!
Women Doubles Final013.JPG (134530 bytes) What began as a lazy turned into another day full of tennis!   The first match I watched was the women’s gold medal doubles match between Spain & China.  Here are the Spanish. Women Doubles Final027.JPG (117006 bytes) The Chinese team surprisingly won the gold and wasted no time in getting a flag to parade around the stadium.
Women Doubles Final038.JPG (138554 bytes) Then it was time for the medal ceremony.  China won the gold.  Spain the silver.  Argentina won the bronze.  Women Doubles Final032.JPG (138102 bytes) Not bad seats, huh?  Thank you Dodger Stadium for the proper training in obtaining good seats!
Men Singles Final039.JPG (128244 bytes) In the men’s final it was Mardy Fish of the USA vs. Nicolas Massu of Chile.  I sat between the trainer (Per) and the chair umpire from the women’s gold medal match (Enrich). Men Singles Final036.JPG (125164 bytes) It was far from a pretty final, but Massu showed more heart in winning the gold.  He played a smarter match in overcoming fatigue after having played the gold medal doubles match the night before.
Men Singles Final007.JPG (93897 bytes) Fish had over 100 unforced errors as he tried to attack most every point.  Maybe he will learn to be a little more patient and to try to mix up his game a bit next time!!! Men Singles Final044.JPG (116457 bytes) Massu played over 7 hours of gold medal matches of tennis in 24 hours.  At the end all he could do was collapse.  But he collapsed with 2 gold medals.  These were Chile’s first ever gold medals in any event!
Men Singles Final066.JPG (119077 bytes) As Massu received his gold medal, Mardy Fish the silver medalist looked on knowing he missed a golden opportunity!  No pun intended. Jason inside Oaka.JPG (138319 bytes) My 6th day of attending Olympic events began at the Oaka track & field stadium.  In this stadium the night before an American had won the gold and bronze in the 100m.
Men's Decathlon004.JPG (132722 bytes) Chirgy I could not help but think of you as I sat in the stadium and watched the decathletes and throwers at the beginning of the day.  Here is a decathlete doing the long jump. Womens Hammer003.JPG (115803 bytes) Who ever thought up the hammer throw?   What an interesting event!  I got to see a woman from Russia set an Olympic Record in the Hammer Throw Prelims!
Women's 200 meters Muna Lee.JPG (127934 bytes) Simultaneous to the field events taking place, they had the prelims of the women’s 200 meters.  Wow, can these women run.  Here is one of the USA’s medal hopefuls Muna Lee coming out of the blocks. Women's 20 km Walk007.JPG (120441 bytes) However, despite the excitement of these events, the highlight was having a Greek woman finish the 20km walk by coming into the stadium to win the gold medal!   Go Greece!
Softball Gold Medal006.JPG (80150 bytes) After track & Field I took my flag and went and supported the USA softball team as they cruised to another gold medal over Australia. Softball Gold Medal009.JPG (125652 bytes) Ageless Lisa Fernandez pitched the team to the gold again.  She was helped by third baseman, Crystal Bustos, 2 home runs.  
Softball Gold Medal041.JPG (138712 bytes) After the game the team from America posed for pictures on the field.  U..S..A, U..S..A.. Softball Gold Medal064.JPG (117245 bytes) It was nice to see the flag fly high and to sing the National Anthem to celebrate the gold medal!  BTW, there was a pretty strong Bruin contingency on the team!  Go Bruins!
Womens Handball Jason.JPG (131395 bytes) My final event of the day was women’s handball.  I had no idea how the game was played so it was very interesting.  Definitely better than dressage from the 84 Olympics!J W Hndball Ukr v. Hun007.JPG (126663 bytes) Does anyone else know how to play Olympic handball?  It seemed to me like a mix of hockey, basketball and lacrosse.   The first game saw Ukraine squeak by Hungary by 1 point/goal.
W Hndball Den v. Ang006.JPG (123601 bytes) In the 2nd game I saw 2 time defending Olympic Champion, Denmark, destroy Angola.  By the end of game 2 I think I had a few parts of the game figured out!  Very fun to watch! Oaka Complex005.JPG (122571 bytes) The Olympic Flame continues to shine brightly.  I have one more day of events to see before I head to the Greek Isles for a few days and then it is on to Turkey.
Jason Empty Oaka.JPG (150138 bytes) My final day in Athens began and ended at the track & field events.  At the morning session I felt like I had the place to myself as I watched the decathlon and more sprint prelims. Jason Waterpolo.JPG (138606 bytes) In the middle of the day I went over to the semi-final water polo matches.  Unfortunately the Italian women scored a goal with 2 seconds left in the game to defeat the USA 6-5. 
H20 Semi USA v. Ita005.JPG (128817 bytes) The US attack shut down in the last 2 periods after leading 4-2.  Here is one of their many missed shots.  I was so impressed with how tough these women were.  It was war in the water. H20 Semi Gre v. Aus002.JPG (136051 bytes) In the 2nd game I saw the Greeks destroy a much higher ranked Australian team.  Though I sat in the midst of a small pocket of Aussies, the Greek fans once again carried their team to victory.
Athletics Seats.JPG (137326 bytes) Earlier I had purchased tickets to the USA v. Brazil women’s volleyball game for the night.  But when I wound up in the OAKA stadium with great seats, I could not leave the track & field. Decathlete BryanClay004.JPG (129289 bytes) There were so many events over the course of the evening.  USA’s Bryan Clay more than made USA fans proud by taking home the silver medal in the decathlon. 
Long Jump J Moffit.JPG (136986 bytes) My seats were perfect for the long jump preliminaries.  I saw all the men make their qualify jumps, including J. Moffitt of the USA who went on to win the silver. Men's 3000 M Steeplechase Kenya 3 Medals .JPG (122253 bytes) In the men’s 3000 M Steeplechase I saw the Kenyan men show their dominance as they swept the medals.
M 1500 M Godl Medal002.JPG (128436 bytes) However in the final of the men’s 1500 m a runner from Morocco came from behind at the very end to defeat the favored Kenyan.  It was a great cat & mouse race to watch until the very end. W 100 M Hurdles Joanna Hayes.JPG (123748 bytes) I got to see a surprise US victory in the women’s 100 m hurdles as Joanna Hayes took the gold and Melissa Morrison took bronze.  Here is Joanna on her victory lap.
W Gold Medal Race002.JPG (130304 bytes) In the womens 400 m I saw Mexico win their first ever track medal with a silver and an emotional runner from the Bahamas win the gold.  Awesome race! W Pole Vault Battle002.JPG (82569 bytes) But while all these and other events were going on, at the other end of the track the women pole vaulters were having an epic battle.  It came down to 2 Russians and a woman from Poland.
W Pole Vault Battle003.JPG (82261 bytes) The event ended with a new world record in the women’s pole vault. This was the first World Record in Track & Field since the 96 Olympics.   It was a great way to end my Olympic experience. Jason So Long Athens.JPG (133648 bytes) It is now time for me to leave and continue my travels elsewhere.  But I leave as the torch still burns with more than a few souveneir pins, balls and memories to last a lifetime!