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Sport is a way of life for Australians and they put on a show that has been widely regarded as a fantastic sporting spectacle.
Cathy Freeman was the poster girl for the Games. An Aboriginal Australian, she was given the honour of lighting the Olympic flame. It was an emotional moment, but there was barely a dry eye in the house 10 days later as Freeman, decked out in a remarkable hooded outfit, powered away to win gold in the 400m. Her main pre-race rival, defending champion Marie-Jose Perec, fled the country on the eve of the race claiming she had been hounded out.
American sprint queen Marion Jones was the talk of the Games, as she arrived in Sydney determined to better the efforts of Jesse Owens (Berlin 1936) and Carl Lewis (Los Angeles 1984) and win five golds. She took gold in 100m, 200m, 4x400m relay, but was beaten into third by Heike Drechsler in the long jump and a string a batton-change errors forced her to settle for bronze in the 4x100m relay. It wasn't a bad haul, but It subsequently emerged that Jones' efforts had been tainted by taking performance-enhancing drugs. She later agreed to hand back her medal haul from Sydney and was jailed for six months for lying in court during the drugs trail.
Michael Johnson became the only man to successfully defend the 400m title, but injury forced him to miss the 200m at the US trials and thus the chance to defend that title.
Steve Redgrave had been a standard bearer for GB at the Olympics and he etched his name into Games history by winning rowing gold at a fifth consecutive Games.
Following a disappointing time in 1996, Britain were also on the gold trail with Denise Lewis (heptathlon), Jonathan Edwards (triple jump), Jason Queally (1km time trial), Richard Faulds (double trap shooting), Shirley Robertson, Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy (all sailing), Audley Harrison (boxing) and Stephanie Cook (modern pentathlon).
Ian Thorpe gave the home hordes plenty to cheer, as the 17-year-old who went by the nickname of 'Thorpedo' won three golds in the pool.