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Athens winners and losers

Athens had its share of both, but some stood above — and below — the crowd

From Monday's Globe and Mail

AthensWINNERS

CHINA

Third overall with 63 medals, 32 of them gold, and significant breakthroughs in sports in which China hadn't been a big factor, with medals in boxing, tennis, canoeing, cycling, fencing, sailing and wrestling. Many top swimmers were kept at home to give the 2008 prospects some Olympic experience. Watch for a sports juggernaut in Beijing in 2008.

MICHAEL PHELPS

The American swimmer outperformed most countries with eight medals, six of them gold. "It is everything I ever wanted, everything I ever dreamed of," he said. The Baltimore Barracuda expects to stay in the pool eight to 10 more years, hopeful the 2012 Games will be at home in the United States.

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Despite all the naysayers, construction delays and cost overruns, Greece pulled off the Homecoming Games in splendid state-of-the-art venues, with security that was omnipresent without being smothering. Now, about that reported $9-billion (U.S.) bill. .....

WADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency has made drug testing truly relevant. The International Olympic Committee nailed 23 doping athletes at the Athens Games, training sites and on return home, up from 11 catches in Sydney. Three gold medals were reclaimed from cheats — as many as Canada won.

ARGENTINA

Think Canada felt joy about its 2002 hockey gold medals? Argentina scored Olympic gold in men's basketball and soccer on the same day, ending a gold-medal drought that had lasted since 1952.

LOSERS

GREEK SPRINTERS

Greek heroes Kostas Kederis and Katerina Thanou embarrassed the host country before the Games started by supposedly skipping drug tests, allegedly faking a motorbike accident, then withdrawing rather than facing a hearing.

NBA BASKETBALL

The U.S. men's team, snubbed by 13 top National Basketball Association stars, wound up with bronze in Olympic basketball. "We have to re-examine our selection process," head coach Larry Brown said. "The level of playing and coaching around the world has improved so much."

DAVE JOHNSON

Embattled Swimming Canada head coach will pay the price after a Games in which Canada got no medals out of its swimmers and only four personal bests. The entire program faces review.

PERDITA FELICIEN

Canada's world champion hurdler was a champion in the way she handled her fate in Athens. But the calamity of falling on the first hurdle of the final means lost opportunities in the market and four years to get the bitter taste of disappointment out of her mouth.

JUDGED SPORTS

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge singled out gymnastics, equestrian, fencing and tae kwon do as sports he will talk to, as he did with figure skating after the 2002 Salt Lake Games. "We will never be able to avoid controversy in judging," he said. "There's a human element and humans can fail and make errors. The IOC can accept errors, but not manipulation."

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