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The site below was placed online in July & August, 1996, and has largely been left in its original form
Track & Field...the women's 10,000 meter walk...
I've had a bit of a hard time writing the text for this page. I don't know if I can properly convey in words the way this event touched me. Perhaps because I'm not fully sure why myself. It's an event that usually makes one think of.....what's in the fridge? But this morning, it was the sole medal event, and the difference was obvious.

23k-start of 10,000m
After the start, the athletes did a quick lap and a half before they headed out the tunnel to the closed course the majority of the "walk" is "run" on. Being a full-fledged Southern American, I ain't got no metric skills, but I believe 10,000 meters is about six American miles. As we watched on the video screen, the distance took it's toll, as well as the judges (6 walkers were DQ'ed for "breaking form").

28k-10,000m winner

What awakened my Olympic heart was the reaction of the crowd upon the re-entrance to the stadium by soon to be gold medalist, Yelena Nikolayeva of Russia. There was a sudden eruption of 85,000 people, filled with every bit of the enthusiasm they would have for David Justice crossing home plate in the World Series. For a Russian walker! The *rush* it gave Ms. Nikolayeva was plastered on her face, and as she crossed the finish line 50 feet away, I *felt* a tiny piece of the joy she was overflowing with, and it brought tears to my eyes.
28k-collapsed runner 18k-runners hug
This feeling was amplified many fold by the sights that soon followed. Women crossing the finish line fueled only by an inhuman determination, only to collapse helpless a few feet past that line. Women hugging each other with obvious joy, not because they'd won a medal, but because they'd finished.

They had fulfilled their greatest dream. To compete against the finest athletes on the planet in the Olympics, to give it their absolute best effort, and to be joyful in the participation, regardless of the results. For this regular guy, that is the piece of the Olympics that touched my heart, and left me humbly grateful for this experience, for I found it in the least expected place.

[click the cauldron
for more stuff I saw]

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