Athletics competitors line up for a race. Photo by Free-Photos/9088 images.

Episode 156: Sydney 2000’s Magic Monday

Release Date: October 1, 2020

September 25, 2000 is known to Olympics fans as Magic Monday, where athletics fans got to see nine finals, including Cathy Freeman and Michael Johnson winning the 400m races. Nick Zaccardi, long-time Olympics editor at NBC Sports, joins us to talk about what made Magic Monday legendary.

Follow Nick on Twitter and Insta, and read his many articles at NBC Olympics.

What all happened on Magic Monday in Stadium Australia?

Women’s pole vault finally gets to the Olympic stage!

Men’s discus:

Men’s triple jump:

Women’s 400m – This one is electrifying: Cauldron lighter Cathy Freeman withstands the immense pressure to win the 400m (remember when runners wore the hooded suits?):

Men’s 400m – Michael Johnson becomes the first man in Olympic history to successfully defend his gold medal in the 400m.

Men’s 110m hurdles:

Women’s 5000m:

Women’s 800m:

Men’s 10000m – which featured TKFLASTANI Abdi Abdirahman (finishingn 10th)!

What an amazing night it must have been in this stadium! If you were there, let us know what it was like!

That’s not all! Magic Monday also included:

  1. Beach volleyball – men’s medals
  2. Cycling – women’s road race
  3. Gymnastics – men’s vault, parallel bars, horizontal bars finals
  4. Gymnastics – women’s beam, floor finals
  5. Synchronized Swimming – duet final
  6. Table Tennis – men’s singles medals

And a lot of people seem to care about this moment:

If you live in Tokyo, you might want to go to this: The Tokyo Aquatics Centre will be opening on October 24. There’s a ceremony in the morning, followed by tours in the afternoon. Apply here (and if you go, tell us all about it!).

Thank you to our Patreon and Paypal donors — we’re trying to get enough donors to be able to offer transcripts, so please support us today!

Thanks for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!


Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.

Nick Zaccardi: [00:00:00] So it’s always great. When you get things like that, where there’s athletes from all over the world who are creating this moment, it’s not just kind of one little section or, you know, one nation or, or something like that. Mid the greatest festival of our contemporary society. The Olympic games is about to begin.

This is gonna be close. Oh, they’re all completely gas giving it everything. Oh yeah. Oh, brilliant. Brilliant, brilliant. But.

Jill: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast, for fans of the Olympics and Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison brown, Alison. Hello, how are you today? I am hanging in

Alison: there. How about you?

Jill: Oh, same. Like we had a nice hot weekend now it’s getting cold and it’s fall, fall, fall, but you know what fall means this year?

That that I’m gonna injure myself. No, it means it’s the 20th anniversary of Sydney 2000. It’s so funny that you

Alison: say that because I was having a conversation with some people over the weekend and they said, oh, the, they had an Olympics in September, and then we had a whole discussion about Northern and Southern hemisphere and oh yes, it was reversed.

And how cold it was in Rio. Yeah.

Jill: That’s always interesting to think about that. And then think about the reverse of what they must. Every time, there’s a summer Olympics during their winter. Right.

Alison: It’s very confusing, but I have been enjoying all the Sydney nostalgia. Oh my goodness. That was such a good games.

Jill: It, oh, it was, it was so, so good. So much fun. They did such a great job putting it on so many great athletic feats, just, oh, it was so good. So good. They should be proud. It’s it’s really one and well, as Juan Antonio Samran said the greatest games ever. It is

Alison: definitely arguably the greatest games ever. It was just so many legendary kind of things happened.

And the way they ran the games, nobody was complaining.

Jill: Exactly. And coming off of Atlanta, that was a big deal

Alison: where lots of people were complaining. Tragedy sort of that aspect to it as well.

Jill: But yes, it is the 20th anniversary of Sydney, 2000. So today we are looking back at arguably the best day at those amazing games.

September 25th, 2000 has been called the greatest day in Olympic track and field history with victories by Cathy Freeman and Michael Johnson were just the beginning. We spoke with longtime Olympics editor at NBC sports. Nick Zaccardi about what made Magic Monday. Legend. take a listen,

Alison: Nick, thank you so much for joining us.

So we wanted to talk on the 20th anniversary of Sydney 2000 and I had not heard the term magic Monday before referring to the track and field events of September 25th. So let’s just kind of go through some of the big things that happened on that specific night.

Nick Zaccardi: Well, I feel like the favorite for me and probably most, most people who look at it from that night would be the women’s 400 meters.

Which might have, I think actually been the first of, of this series of track and field events that happened that made it magic Monday. Chronologically of course it was probably the most anticipated event of the entire games across all sports because of the presence of Kathy Freeman. We remember she lit the, she lit the Collman of the opening ceremony 10 days earlier, and this was her biggest event, the 400 meters.

She was the world champion, the favorites. And of course, being of Aboriginal descent, she was trying to become, I believe the. Australian of Aboriginal ascent to win an individual Olympic gold medal. And of course it was in track and field event at this huge stadium, 110,000 people. So it was, it was a pretty big deal.

Alison: So she had lit the Calder and I remember watching this and she had been past the torch by all these other Australian champions and the pressure that she was. I was worried about her as a fan saying, oh my goodness, what if she doesn’t win? So I can’t imagine the pressure that she must have felt.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah.

Well, it’s funny. The, the Sydney morning Herald the newspaper there in Sydney, the main one, the day of the final, their front page headline was the race of our lives with a picture of Kathy Freeman’s face on it. Now, can you imagine. I don’t know if Kathy saw that newspaper when she got up in the morning, but can you imagine being an athlete and seeing that on the day of the biggest, uh, sporting event in your athletic career, where you pretty much have to perform at your best for what?

48 seconds, 49 seconds, it’s going to essentially define the rest of your life. It’s, it’s hard, hard to believe in. [00:05:00] It’s hard to think of any other athlete in Olympic history that had that kind of pressure. Not only being the whole nation star, but the collagen lighter, and then obvious. Having all the attention on you, um, because of, you know, ancestral heritage and what you mean in a broader context, outside sport for your country.

It’s just so incredible. And if you watch the. When she finishes and she wins and she’s kind of crouching over and you can can see the, I don’t know if it’s relief or just pressure kind of falling off of her shoulders. You can see it in her eyes and her face. And it’s just overwhelming. Right? And

Jill: she like sat on the sidelines for a little while or in the infield for a little while and took off her shoes and, and took some time to just take it all in before asking for, uh, what they were calling on the Australian TV.

A lap of honor.

Nick Zaccardi: Right. Well, she didn’t have that much time cause they were setting up, uh, the, the men’s 400 meters happened immediately after that, which is funny because Michael Johnson who, you know, the big favorite ended up winning that race, he broke with protocol and he went out to the track or at least right next to the track to watch the women’s 400 meter final right before his race, because he knew that it was gonna be just, you know, this iconic moment and he wanted to be there to see it rather.

Whatever his normal last minute preparations would’ve been in, in a ready room or in the warmup track, um, kind of farther below. And of course the victory lap was a big deal because she carried both the Australian flag and, and the Aboriginal flag with her, which I’m sure many people anticipated her doing.

But obviously that, that also carried with it a lot of sentimental and, and, and became, you know, pictures that were, you know, related across Australia and was a big.

Alison: So talk a little bit about that in that obviously, as Americans, we’re not as familiar with the Australian Aboriginal, it’s very similar to native Americans experience, you know, being taken from their land, but it seems in Australia, like it’s even more intense or the, the prejudice continues.

I, in a way that we don’t seem to see in the United

Nick Zaccardi: States. Yeah. Well, Kathy told her story pretty well. She did some interview. And in particular TV special with the ABC network in Australia, leading up to the 20th anniversary of Richie kind of went through. The Aboriginal people had gone through and specifically her family members, her grandparents had gone through being, you know, Australia’s indigenous people and how they were persecuted and, and how that sort of motivated her.

And you kind of got her perspective when it came to later on the line. Um, it’s actually a big deal in the Commonwealth games. I believe it was in 1991, maybe 90. Um, she carried an Aboriginal flag on the victory lap and was heavily criticized by, um, high standing people within, uh, within Australia, within Australia’s Olympic movement, which is just crazy, crazy to think about that sort of thing happening in the 1990s.

I in, as, as Americans, we think about. John Carlos, Tommy Smith and in 1968 and, and them essentially getting kicked out of, of the Olympic village for, for what they did. And when you think about it as, as Americans, you know, up until recently, you think that stuff is way in the past, but, you know, in Australia it was such a big deal.

It’s still throughout the nineties and even leading up to the 2000 Olympics. And obviously now in America, we’re dealing with this reckoning where a lot of people. Realizing now that that racism is still, you know, still a very big deal. And, you know, maybe they had thought it was something that was back in the sixties and seventies.

But again, yeah, this Australia, this was a major, major point outside of sports. So for the country’s biggest sporting icon during the Olympics to be this symbol, it just carried so much. So the hitch

Alison: just came on common that night. So delayed for several minutes was the men’s 400 because of the Australian crowd, just losing their minds off for Kathy Freeman’s win.

And then here comes Michael Johnson repeating in the men’s 400, which had never happened in Olympic history

Nick Zaccardi: before. Yeah. And it’s interesting. That turned out to be what the last individual race of Michael Johnson’s Olympic career. And, and really, I mean, he didn’t compete in any world championships after that either.

So that was pretty much the, the end of his career on the major stage. And he didn’t run the 200 meters at those Olympics. You know, he would’ve run later on the games and 200 meters if he had made the team in it, but he wasn’t able to defend in his, his Olympic title in that event because he pulled up with an injury at the Olympic trials and a big showdown.

Ma green. And of course in Atlanta, the 200 meter was, was more famous with Michael than the 400 because he broke the broke the 200 meter world in that race. So it’s kind of interesting how that all played out, but yeah, Michael, who during the Atlanta games. Had, you know, was the home host nation, big track and field star.

Now four years later is seeing Cathy right in front of him as the home nation, big track and field star in a little different sense, but there are a lot of similarities there and he, he knew Cathy too as well. So it’s kind of [00:10:00] interesting that he went up and followed her right then, because it does, that doesn’t happen anymore.

The men’s and women’s 400 meter finals, I believe are now on different days at the Olympics. So it’s interesting. A, a moment. We’ll never see anything like that again, unless they change the schedule and, and things align. But yeah, that, that is pretty crazy.

Alison: So that day in track and field or athletics as it’s referred to, there were nine finals.

Is that, that seems like a

Nick Zaccardi: lot. That’s a good, good point. Um, it does, it does seem like a lot, uh, but you have to remember though, they did well, for instance, the very, the next major event that happened chronologically was the women’s pull vault, which was a new. So this is the track and field programs, you know, expanding, you know, at these games in the later games, adding more.

And that’s where we see Stacy DLA the, who had a great story, um, uh, coming from, uh, what farm, something with, with cattle or something like that. Like she, you know, had this great, you know, Olympic athlete story that NBC told, and she goes out and she wins the first Olympic women full by competition. I’m sure.

Growing up, thinking that she wouldn’t be able to compete the Olympics if she did the pull box, cuz it was only for men at the time. And the silver medalist was a Russian born Australian Tatiana, Greg go Ava. So all sorts of interesting things happening now, of course that is happening. Kathy and Michael are racing, they’re jumping at their Heights and then eventually ends after Michael Johnson’s race.

So that’s a nice little segue there.

Alison: Yeah. I was watching some of the videos today and as I was watching the 10,000, there are people jumping in the background. So all of these. Things are kind of, you know, cuz there were several field events and, and I’ve never been to a, a track and field meet on this scale so that everything is kind of happening at once.

How does this crowd even handle it? I mean they all must have just been losing their minds. trying to keep up.

Nick Zaccardi: Well, I wasn’t at the Sydney games. Mm-hmm but, um, I have covered track and field the last couple of Olympics. And, uh, there was another reporter who’s done this a lot longer than I have. I, I’m not sure if it’s him or, or somebody else.

I’m not gonna say his name, but they called it, you know, they called track and field three ring circus, you know, when you’re covering track and field, there’s whatever’s going on on track. There’s usually multiple field events going on, whether or not it’s a throws or a jump or something like that. So you always kind of have to be monitoring multiple things that are going on at once.

It’s different from almost any other sport there is, and a story can pop out from any one of those three tents at, at, at a given time. And this night was sort of one of those things where you had something happen in the pole vault in the triple jump and three different races in the track. Four, four different races in the track, really.

And. So it it’s pretty cool cuz there’s different people of the state, different people in different sections of the stadium are closely monitoring different things, right? If you are an Australian, obviously you’re watching Cathy. If you’re an American, you might be focused on the pole ball. You know, Europeans are looking at, you know, Jonathan Edwards and the triple jump.

And then obviously the distance races, whether you have the east Africans. So it’s, it’s always great. When you get things like that, where there’s athletes from all over the world. Who are creating this moment, not just kind of one little section or, you know, one nation or, or something like that.

Alison: So you mentioned the distance race, the men’s 10,000 had the most insane, last hundred meters mm-hmm yeah, I think that I’ve ever seen in that kind of distance that’s so that last a hundred meters you’ve got two race racers, just neck and

Nick Zaccardi: neck.

Yeah. Highly ever solos in Paul Ette. And they had, they had. Already a very developed rivalry between those two from, from world championships and things like that. So it was actually a very anticipated race. Oftentimes at least the general Olympics fan who maybe focuses on a hundred, doesn’t think of the 10,000.

It’s something that’s incredibly interesting, but believe me, this was a very anticipated events and yeah, like you said, 25 laps of the track, the race takes half hour essentially. And it comes down to the last, last kick sprint and last front meters. And it’s nine 100th of a second, highly Gabriel sloe out kicking Paul Turcot and just incredible.

And that’s kind of the way it was with their rivalry was highly always, he always won . Um, so unfortunately for Turga, that was probably as close as he got, but just kind of cemented Gabriel sloe similar to like a Michael Johnson as kind of this king, cuz he had already been an Olympic champion before and he just, he does it again and he does it under the biggest pressure possible.

And so. One of the special moments in Olympic distance running that maybe gets forgotten a little bit about, um, among, you know, general Olympic fans, cuz again, this is Kathy Freeman and Michael Johnson’s night, but this was, this was a very big deal to a lot of people as well. And

Alison: Gabriel Olai is trailing the entire race and then all of a sudden he just come you’re like what is going on?

What is happening? Yeah. It’s just, it’s a fantastic,

Nick Zaccardi: yeah, you get that line. Yeah, you get to a lot of distance races. I mean, we see like Ferra and last recent Olympics was kind, that was his thing. You just sit and kick that sort of thing. If you, if you know, you got the best kick there’s, there’s no point in, in leading [00:15:00] it all, if you don’t have to, right.

You don’t wanna burn any energy that you’re gonna use for the very end. So that was I’m sure that’s, that’s what he was thinking. And the tur out was probably, hopefully trying to kick the kick out of go sloe by, by pushing the pace. But he, you know, obviously didn’t do it.

Alison: I wanna go back to the pole vault just because mm-hmm , it is kind of ridiculous.

And I, I promise I won’t go off on a T rate that 2000 is the first time we have women’s pole vault. Yeah. But how was that received at the time in the athletics community?

Nick Zaccardi: That’s a good question. Um, and I’m be honest with you here. I was only what, 14 years old during the 2000 Olympics. So I, I don’t know exactly for sure, but I, I will say this it’s, it’s funny because there’s that and.

Women’s 3000 meter steeple chase wasn’t added until the following Olympics in 2004. So that wasn’t like the last, uh, last event to kind of finally get some gender equality. And even now in recent years, there’s been a little bit of a storyline of like, if, and when they’re going to add a women’s decathlon, which would.

Probably require them to phase out the heptathlon from the, you know, Olympics and world championships at some point. And, you know, are they going to do that? Should they do that for, for gender equality or do. Female multi-event athletes who are coming up and learning the Helon. Do they maybe not, not want to do that.

So that’s another interesting thing, but yeah, it’s crazy. And we see it in, in a lot of different sports. There are still Olympic sports that are not gender equal. Um, and it’s,

Alison: don’t get us. That’s why I said don’t get us started

Jill: it’s because our UUs well, just lie all over the field. That’s that’s why come on.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that was the old argument with the marathon, right? That, that women, women couldn’t couldn’t run 26 miles and. Female, especially in the United States, female marathoning is, is exploded and, and America has some of the best female marathon in the world, but it’s yeah, we’re, they’re still working.

I mean, the winter games, you guys, ski jumping just got added for women in order to combine to something that’re trying to develop and get enough countries to have strong female competitors and get that into the Olympics. Because right now that’s only a male event. I wanted to

Jill: talk a little bit about the triple jump because, uh, one of the things I was reading was that somebody called Jonathan Edwards, like the night before and said, oh, Hey, when you jump like right around your first jump, it’s gonna be when Kathy Freeman runs.

And he kind of let that, he, he went, it could have, it could have gone one of two ways. He could have gotten very uptight, but he kind of let that boy him into his competi. that’s

Nick Zaccardi: an interesting point. I haven’t really thought of that too much. Yeah. I wonder if Jonathan, cuz this was his fourth Olympics. He didn’t have a gold medal yet, even though he already had, you know, the world record from several years before he must have been feeling a lot of pressure, knowing this was probably gonna be his last chance, but then you see Kathy and Michael Johnson go before you on the track.

Maybe that takes some of the pressure off knowing that everybody in the stadium is probably watching those people and, and not watching you as much. And, and also maybe like during the competition, you can distract yourself by watching what’s going on in the track, right. Watching these historic moments.

And maybe that take your, takes your mind off of it. I’m I’m not sure I haven’t spoken to Jonathan about that, but it, it was obviously a very unique experience of all of this major championships, uh, to be in the stadium that night. And I wonder, I wonder if that ended up helping.

Alison: So now you wrote an article kind of detailing all these different events and all the, the excitement from that night.

Do you remember it yourself?

Nick Zaccardi: I remember a little bit. So I was, I was a high school freshman, and I remember this was back. I mean, this was back in, I taped those Olympics on VHS tapes and I re so I remember. I remember making sure that I got it in there in time to be able to get the Kathy Freeman raced, cuz that was gonna be the big thing.

And then, and then Michael Johnson race too. And honestly I don’t, I do remember Stacy D I don’t remember Jonathan Edwards as much or the men’s 10,000 as much, or even Maria Moto and the 800 meters, maybe that’s cuz those weren’t as big a deal to me at the time. At my age. Maybe it’s also. I mean, it’s gotta be very hard for NBC to fit all of those things in the primetime broadcast as well.

So we have to spend so much time on what Kathy and Michael did, obviously it’s possible that it would’ve been later or something like that. It was, you know, it was a school night. I don’t know if I was up that late to watch all of it. So, but I do, I do still have the VHS tape, so that’s, that’s always kind of funny.

Going back and looking at some of the commercials and


Alison: like that. Yeah. I would think, you know, Kathy Freeman, Michael Johnson, Stacy Trula and everything else, you sort of saw the last lap or the last throw and that was about it. Oh

Nick Zaccardi: yeah. Yeah. Possible. Yeah. Cause you can’t, you can’t show an entire triple jump competition on prime time.

Cause you know, it, it, it takes so long and same thing with it. You can’t show a half hour, a full half hour race in prime time. There just isn’t enough time for it. So [00:20:00] that’s, those are good points too. Um, I do remember actually that day was also the day. Vince Carter had his famous dunk over the French center, Frederick vice that was earlier in the day.

So it’s, it’s interesting cuz every year on this day on social media that Vince Carter dunk is shared endlessly. Because it’s such this highlight moment in a very popular sport in America with a very popular athlete and then Vince Carter and then people, okay. Like there’s very little attention span for people with the Olympics and the Olympics aren’t happening, right.

The general sports fan. So they see the Vince Carter dunk and boom, that’s like, you know, maybe that’s the only two seconds of day they think about the Olympics. But actually that day was a far more significant day than just the, the three second highlight clip of Vince Carter dunking over a seven flip guy.

Actually, all of this stuff happened in track and field. It was much more monumental. It’s kind of funny how that works. So

Alison: obviously you’ve watched a lot of Olympics since then, very closely, you know, on a professional level, where would you put Sydney in the Pantheon of games?

Nick Zaccardi: Well, again, like there are people who are much more experienced who would probably be able to do this better than I would, but, um, my memories of watching the Olympics, you know, go back only to, to, to.

As far as summer games to Atlanta, really. And as far as the whole package, Sydney was very high. Um, and if you remember the IOC president, the time called them the best games ever at the very end and that part of that was cuz of the sport tune. It also because Sydney, they just put on incredible games, but that was, that was up there.

I still have to, I have put Beijing number one as far as if we’re just looking at sporting achievements, because that was the pinnacle for Michael Phelps and for Usain bolt, who are the two most famous. Olympians in at least modern history. And of course that also had the redeemed team in similar things as well.

So I think I’d have to put Beijing number one, but it’s Sydney’s right up there. It, it might be as far as you know, in my, my lifetime, it, it could be number two. London was pretty good. Atlanta had a lot of things going for it. I don’t really remember much of Barcelona, but everybody I talked to says that it was great and it obviously had some great things too.

So Sydney could be number two, it’s kind of sneaky up there. People don’t think of it too much. It didn’t have a dream team. It didn’t Phelps was only competed in one event as a 15 year old bolt wasn’t there yet. You know, it was kind of this, it was kind of this, the games before we got the, you know, the felt this bolt run that we got.

So people don’t maybe think of it as much, but it really had a whole lot in a lot of different sports.

Jill: Now, uh, London had it super Saturday. How would you compare magic Monday to super Saturday?

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah, that’s pretty interesting. I mean, obviously there’s a lot of parallels there. Ands co you know, the, the British middle distance runner who became the leader of the organizing committee for the London games.

He, when he was talking about what happened on super Saturday, he recalled what happened on magic Monday. And he said basically super Saturday is the greatest night that we’ve had. In Olympics mean Olympic track and field since magic Monday, and maybe it, and he said that it, maybe it edged magic Monday a little bit.

Now of course, he’s saying that as a Brit, so, you know, that’s gonna come with a little bit of, of, you know, bias of course, but yeah, it’s. Super Saturday you had with, and this was super Saturday was a little bit different because everything happened so quickly. It was boom, boom, boom between, um, Jessica Enni and the heptathlon and Greg Rutherford and the long jump and, and Mo Farra, uh, in the 10 K they happened very, um, right in succession and it was all host nation athletes.

As opposed to magic Monday being athletes from around the world, different continents doing so well. So I think you got some differences there. So if you’re somebody who’s really into the host nation, doing something special in that sort of environment, obviously magic Monday is gonna gonna be really high for you.

But as far as an overall, I would go with magic Monday.

Alison: Yeah. Lord co might have a little bit of a bias to the six medals that the UK picked up on, on super Saturday in London. Yeah. Just just a little bit.

Jill: Do you have any interesting stories about discos or the 110 meter hurdles for men or the women’s 5,000 or 800?

Nick Zaccardi: uh, well, the women’s 800 was, was another race that you could throw in there with those moments that we’ve already talked about as being very special, because you had Maria Moto of Mozambique, kind of similar to Jonathan Edwards as athletes who had been on the scene for a, a long time. So dominant in, in the 1990s was a world champion.

Um, but she hadn’t won an Olympic gold medal yet. And by this time she was, uh, 27, 28 years old. So, um, it, this was looking like possibly her last chance to do it, and she gets the gold medal really big deal. And so that’s, you know, very similar. Uh, and again, it kind of helps round out this night because we’ve got an Australian, we’ve got a couple of Americans.

And then we’ve got, you know, SLOs and Turga Ethiopia and Kenya, and then Marine Muto is from [00:25:00] Mozambique. You know, this country that we don’t think of Mozambique when we think about great, um, great sporting nations. So it just adds a little bit extra to the, you know, diverse nature of this night. So that was, that was a really big one, too.

The other events, honestly, I, I don’t recall too much off the top of my head of what, what made them special? The men’s hunting me hundred 10 meter hurdles. You had a New York Garcia of Cuba. Cuba won. That was event that was typically dominated by Americans and, and Europeans. So that was an interesting thing to happen, but he didn’t get a particularly fast time.

He wasn’t as decorated as, as some of the other people in the event. Like, you know, he had won Olympic mill before he wasn’t a world champion. Um, so I don’t remember too much about that. Uh, so you got me on those, the biscuits, the women’s five, the women’s five had a good rivalry between Gabriel Zao and, and, and sonno Sullivan of Ireland.

but I mean, as far as distance races, the, the, the men’s tent was, you know, that was, that was the, the marque deal. So you did get

Alison: a medal for Ireland in athletics. That’s true. Which was not, you know, we don’t see too many of those.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah. And that was very close race, too. That, that came down to just a couple of tents, tenths, tenths of a second, very close.

Alison: I did watch that race before we got on the phone. And what surprised me was that Sabo was able to win, wearing all that jewelry. Like that alone. I thought would’ve slowed her down. She had on these giant earrings in this enormous necklace. And I’m like, if you had taken all that off, Gabriel, it wouldn’t have even been

Nick Zaccardi: close.

Yeah. It’s funny too. Cuz you don’t think distance running, you don’t think Romanian Ireland, like that’s just, it’s it’s funny how that worked. It became a European dual. So that’s, you know, that’s crazy.

Alison: So the other thing that not related to when we were talking about other countries, so also happening that night, that just strikes me as interesting was there were gymnastics finals and this was the last gymnastics where we really saw the dominance of the Romanians and the Russians.

Once 2000 far comes, they start kind of, you know, they want, they kind of swept the board on some of these events and we don’t see that anymore. And I kind of miss it.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah, little bit. Yeah. RO yeah. Romanian in particular really had this precipitous fall. I mean, well, in 2004 they still won the team title.

Uh, and they won some individual gold mills too. So I guess 2004 was really beginning for Romania, but Russia, I mean, after the breakup of the Soviet union, Russia kind of had this slow, slow and stay decline. I mean, Lana H helped keep them go to the top there in 2000, especially in 2004, helped them. Stay in the metal hunt, but yeah, that was really, and of course, I mean 2000 gymnastics it’s I mean, that’s all about the, the controversies of what happened with, you know, between the all around gold meows, getting stripped and then, and then the, uh, well also in the, all around the, uh, with the fall being, being too low and then having to re ball and stuff like that.

So that was, I mean, that was pretty nuts too. Yeah. Um, but that. There was just some great personalities and names in the international gymnastics of those Olympics is what I remember too. It’s between hor and then L say NA mob on the men’s side. I mean, it was pretty cool to have, and then, I mean, ya way, who won the gold medal in 2008, he was really young there and he got, he got silver in the, all around.

So it was kind of interesting to see a lot of these, a lot of these cool, interesting names there, even though the Americans both on the men and women’s side didn’t really didn’t really do much, but if you loved personalities and international gymnastics, it was good Olympics.

Alison: They were all competing in individual event finals that night.

So H got her medal and, okay. Yeah. You don’t wanna cross H

Nick Zaccardi: certainly not on uneven bars. Yeah. She will take you out. Is that be uneven bars night? Yeah, I

Alison: was beaming floor

Nick Zaccardi: be oh, Beaman floor. Okay. Then that would’ve been, um, dermatologic Cova mm-hmm on floor. Yeah. Yeah. Her teammate. And then yeah, 14 wouldn’t have one.

Yeah. Um, she was, but she gem metal for, it looks like. Yeah. Yeah. Her thing was bars. Right. She always won the bars title. Yeah. She always won the

Alison: bar, but she did compete in the beam. I think she medaled as well. Okay. Okay. So yeah, she was competing that night, but man, you just give her all the medals. So she doesn’t stare at

Nick Zaccardi: yeah.

She’s still a lightning rod in the gymnastic community. She still says a lot of interesting things that. Takes that a lot of people like, so she’s still occurring headlines, what, 20 years later, which is, you know, which is interesting

Alison: as is circle back into Kathy Freeman. She’s been doing interviews left and right.

And good on her. Mm-hmm she seems to have held up under that, that spotlight very well.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah. Well, it’s funny because I really hadn’t heard much from Kathy Freeman. I wanna say the last time I really thought about. Was back in 2012, she was supposed to run the New York city marathon [00:30:00] and then super storm Sandy came and the marathon got canceled like a day or two or before I imagine she was probably in New York city.

Um, because to fly from Australia, you would’ve had to have gotten in days ahead of time. Right. Um, to, to adjust. Um, and of course they ended up not running it. I think she ended up running a marathon somewhere else at some point. But then, yeah, since then, I really hadn’t heard much from her the last eight years or.

And then when this came up, you know, yeah. She’s done some TV interviews and, and things like that. So, and it seems like Australia really made a big deal. This 20th anniversary, they did some primetime TV specials and then the Cathy special that ran on their ABC network. I mean, part of that I think is because law sports were shut down.

It was no Olympics this year. Newspapers and TV networks still have space to fill. So it’s like, okay, well, let’s, let’s showcase these, these Olympics that were so important for our country. So it was nice to see Cathy and some of the other athletes get, get some, get some more attention on that because it’s, Cathy was such a big deal 20 years ago.

And especially with Olympic athletes, it seems like in America, there’s such a big deal for these week or two. And then people forget about them. And I don’t know what it was like in Australia. I imagine Kathy Freeman walks down the street. People still recognize her, but they, she doesn’t get talked about a.

Jill: Speaking of no Olympics this year, how has it been for you work wise in finding stories or mm-hmm, no trip to Tokyo this year.

Nick Zaccardi: Yeah, obviously it’s a lot different than, you know, what I thought it was gonna be. It’s funny. The last, the last real event I covered was the Olympic marathon trials. And I distinctly remember the press conference afterwards.

Somebody asking the athletes a question. The coronavirus. And this is leap day, February 29th. And I was thinking when they asked that I was like, well, what are the athletes gonna say that they, there’s not really much. They can say it’s out of their hands, that sort of thing. So they gave, you know, the answers you thought they would give and then the press conference moved on and then like everything in the next, like two or three weeks, you know, changed.

And I just think about that moment a lot, but there’s still, you know, so there was a, there was maybe a what, two or three month stretch where there’s almost no sports. And that’s when. um, the fact when you cover the Olympics, it’s can sometimes be more about the athlete stories and the personal stories than about the competition itself.

Uh, so that’s when I’m, I’m like, okay, well, so these stories that maybe I was, I was gonna write. Leading up to the Olympics, some of these athletes and, and where they came from and what makes them unique. I’ll just, I’ll just write them anyway. I’m just gonna write them a year before they compete the Olympics.

So that’s what I ended up doing that, you know, a lot of the athletes are still really open to talking, especially when they don’t really have any competitions to get ready for. They’ve got some more time. So a lot of athletes are very gracious with their time. Did some profiles with some athletes, win back and did some flashback.

Um, one of my favorite things I did was I spoke with Jenny Thompson, the swimmer from, from the nineties and two thousands who became, became, um, a doctor. And so she was right on the front lines of COVID. And so I was talking with her a little bit about that and how her hos or her medical center was in desperate need of PPE at the time and, and getting that word out.

So there was still a lot of different ways, you know, you can go about it. And there’s a lot of different athletes affect in a lot of different ways. And then obviously everything with George Floyd. Brought up a whole other things to talk about and, and really made me think about, differently about my job and how, you know, how we handle, you know, what stories we’re gonna cover, who we cover and what we cover and that sort of thing.

And through, through lens, through lens of race. And I went and did some stories on, like I found out who were the first black us winter Olympians, cuz they were fairly recent. They were still alive. And I contacted them and kind of got their story and their perspective. And especially in this time I thought it was, it was rather timely.

So. Even when there’s no sports going on there, there are still, there’s still stories out there. They just might be harder to find or, or a little bit different.

Jill: Now, are you working on Beijing as well? Or I wanna ask, are you worried about two Olympics, six months apart?

Nick Zaccardi: I wouldn’t say I’m worried. Um, I, it’s funny because right now I feel like my job is very different than what it’s gonna be like what six months from now.

And, and like a year from now, it’s gonna be like a whole lot. No. Yeah, I, I’m not worried. I mean, we’re NBC, we obviously have a lot of helping hands, you know, for if and when the, when the time comes, where we, we need that, I’m, I’m looking forward to it. It’s something that we haven’t seen in the Olympic movement.

What, since 1992, like two games back to back, I’m really excited. I just hope that we can get a, a good, solid winter sports season of some sort this year, a lot of the sports. So these athletes can, you know, make a name for themselves before. We’ll lead up to the winter games. Cause we’re already seeing some sort of competitions canceled and postponed that were gonna, that were going to happen in October, November, December.

So for the athletes sake, I really hope that we get to see them compete at the highest level of this winter and kind of establish people as, as metal contenders for Beijing. And then boom, like, you know, March, April, we go right back into Olympic trials for [00:35:00] summer sports. So it’s gonna be, I think it’s gonna really cool.

Like it’s like almost like letting the appetite to have to wait through this whole year for, for, you know, an Olympics next year, but then it’s like, we get, it’s gonna be like, Like a smorgasboard next in 20, 21, it’s gonna be so like incredible. It’s, you know, it’s gonna make the weight from 2022 to 20, 24 feel what you know, in terminable, but that’s okay.

Alison: See, Jill and I are old enough to remember the once every four years. So that switch at yeah.

Nick Zaccardi: Only have

Alison: someone went to. Yeah. Yeah. So that switch in 92 is, is very clear to us and I still sometimes will be like, oh, we’re back. Oh yes. It’s it’s two years. I get so confused. So this is gonna be more familiar, but terrifying now that we’re in this

Nick Zaccardi: business.

Yeah, for sure. It’s it’s and back then, you know, it’s different networks had the winter and summer games, so a lot different and now NBC has both of them. So. It’s something that a, a broadcaster has an experience for you. And we also have obviously other sports and super bowl and things like that. So it’s gonna be a really, really, uh, BI busy year for us.

And I think it’s, I think, I think it’s exciting just because it’s sort of like a new frontier, but, um, I mean, fingers crossed the world is in, you know, a much better place, but, uh, you know, nine, 10 months from now and that the biggest. We focus on the competition, the athletes, because that is the most exciting thing happened.

The most news for everything happening, hopefully the world is in a place where the, the virus, isn’t something that’s an overwhelming concern. You know, hopefully everything gets, gets better and is closer to normal as possible. We can still have a closer to normal Olympics, but you know, we’ll, we’ll see what.


Jill: you so much, Nick, you can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram at N Karti that’s, N Z a C C a R D. I and read his many While we were in our little pause that I put in for, for editing purposes, I, I just started remembering more and more great memories from Sydney.

The Ruan Gardner defeating a Alexander cor,

Alison: the gymnastics was amazing. Amazing. Ian Thorpe was this Olympics and all the Australian swimmers. And what I did not remember that all those things happened on one day. Yeah. And I think that’s because we didn’t see it all on one day.

Jill: Oh, right. Because you were in a time shift.

And they would, that was when NBC would just hold stuff for showing yeah. And show it during prime time, because there was no YouTube. There was no, the internet was just, you know, having its first heyday.

Alison: Right. So when I was reading everything that happened that day, I was just, there’s no possible way that could have all happened at once.

And it, it did. It was just, just

Jill: incredible. Well, if you’ve got memories from Sydney, 2000, please drop us a or. Drop it in our Facebook group, join our group. We have a few Ossie in there and they love to talk about those games rightly so they should be very proud of those. I

Alison: love how the whole country claims.

I mean, Australia is a very large country and Sydney is one little small city, but no matter where the Australians are from, they’re like, yeah, Sydney was ours. ,

Jill: it’s a large country. It was a small population. That

Alison: doesn’t matter, you could still be like

Jill: 10 hours away from Sydney,

Alison: but that’s our

Jill: games. All right.

We’d like to say thank you to all of our Patreon, patrons and PayPal donors who support the show. This show does have a lot of financial and time commitments that we need to cover, and your support helps keep our flame alive. We are currently working on a goal to get 75 patrons, which will allow us to have a transcript for the show, which we would love to provide to those who are hearing impaired and to those who don’t have time to listen, but still want to know about the show.

So please support the show today at live pod, or go to flame live and look for the PayPal and Patreon icons at the top of the. Well, let’s check in with our team now.

Alison: Welcome to shook Stan.

Jill: This is a segment where we catch up with some of our previous guests who have become part of team. Keep the flame alive. That’s T K F L a or as we prefer to call it shook, Liston. Let’s start off with swimmer Mallory Erford she will not be swimming with the international swimming leagues, Kelly condos this year.

It, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on because basically she got dropped from the roster. And I don’t know, she’s been picked up by anybody else, or if she’s just not going to swim with the league this fall, but we will, uh, keep an eye on. [00:40:00] Our pairs figure skater. Megan do Hamel was a guest judge on battle of the blades last year, but, uh, which is a Canadian broadcasting company, uh, show that pairs a hockey player with a figure skater and they learn figure skating routines.

And this year she is back on the show to compete with a VOAC Al Wooki a hockey player. So very excited

Alison: her. Her actual Paris partner, Eric Radford is also competing on the show.

Jill: Oh, so they’re going against each other. Now they’re going head to hit. Oh, that’s gonna be exciting because they have female hockey players as well.

Oh, going with the, oh, that’s exciting. That’s exciting. I know the show is a, a big hit in Canada. If you watch it, let us know. And we’ll be looking on the lookout for clips and episodes. I don’t see any of these.

Alison: I don’t think in the.

Jill: Speaking of Canadians, our geologist, Derek long prob published his first academic paper on a new mineral species called wind mountain night.

This paper also proposes a classification scheme for the, uh, P gore Skype group, which to which wind mountain night belongs. You can read more in the July, 2020 issue of the Canadian neurologist. Oh,

Alison: congratulations, Derek. That’s a big

Jill: deal. It is a big deal. I’m so excited for. our by athlete. Claire Egan was on the podium.

Yes, there was a summer by Athlon in VSBA in Germany. It was called city by Athlon and she took third place. So it was roller skis and shooting. And the

Alison: best part about this podium finish was they gave them, I think it is even larger than a Magnum of champagne. Well, sparkling wine. It. We joke about cake pieces, as big as your head.

This was a bottle of sparkling wine, at least as big as her torso.

Jill: Wow. Huge. Wow. Well, we will have a link to the competition in the show notes. If you would like to watch the do tones, Jason Bryant streamed his podcast, Matt talk online all day long on September 30th for international podcast. To which it’s we are taping on the 29th.

So I intend to tune in for at least part of this tomorrow, just to hear some be how he holds up that and just to have some DCE tones in my life, man. It’s true.

Alison: Whole day. I’ll just have that on.

Jill: I know it will make the world so much better. I know Jason will

Alison: be with me

Jill: all day. Our, uh, one of our book club authors, Andrew Marinus will be one of the featured authors at the Southeastern young adult book festival, which will take place March 11 through 13th, 2021.

And then he also posted on Twitter. If you are a, uh, librarian teacher or parent, if your kids are Stu kids are students are studying the Holocaust, uh, reading and writing nonfiction, or you just need a guest speaker to help get you through the. He is scheduling $200 virtual visits through the end of the school year.

You can hit him up on Twitter and we will have linked to that in the show notes. Very nice finishing off with a Canadian Olia ABA solo of, of chin Cova was featured in sport management hub. Talking about her role as education manager at the international testing agency. And we will have a link to that in the show notes.

Very good, big active week for our, I know

Alison: it’s been so quiet because of the lack of competitions, but now things are, people are finding ways to make things happen, which is fantastic. Oh, oh.

Jill: And Don Harper Nelson has a new vlog up that talks that shows her first race back from retirement. oh, it has the actual video of it.

Yes. And well, it’s a video from the stands, but you can see how she did and, and she hit a hurdle. So that was one of the things that, that kept her back. But, uh, it’s the whole travel thing and the race happened to be on her husband’s birthday. So very exciting stuff from the Harper Nelson family. Uh, let’s move on to Tokyo 2020.

We got some more details on those cuts proposed by the coordination commission and the organizing committee on what they will do to save some money. And, uh, in, in the articles I read, I’ve read a bunch of articles about that was just like, yeah, the money they’re gonna save is gonna be a drop on the bucket.

But to my mind, drop on the bucket is better than no drops in the bucket at all. And this

Alison: is a pretty big bucket. So a few drops can make a

Jill: big difference. Exactly. So they proposed a list of like 50. items and those include no welcome ceremonies or souvenirs for arriving athletes. You know, when they get to the village and they always have a little ceremony not doing that, their

Alison: ceremony when they get to village will be a COVID test.

Jill: They’ll do it as proper as possible. They are [00:45:00] going to reduce the number of officials by 10 to 15%. So that’s about 5,000 to 7,500 fewer than officials. I know they expected 50,000 officials. But when you think about it, okay. The big list of what an official is. So you’ve got the officials for the sporting events.

You’ve got all of the N C officials. You, I wonder if this also includes like entourages of physicians and therapy and other positions that we don’t even know about that

Alison: go with them. Because they better not take away any of those officials in athletics who stand there with the jackets and the Panama hats.

I don’t want any reduction in Panama hats

Jill: so the idea behind reducing the number of officials, it also reduces the number of meals and transportation needs that they have. So that’s gonna be actually kind of a big thing. When you think about like 15,000 fewer meals, a. that can get pricey. Uh, they will cut venue decor and celebratory banners by 30 to 40%.

And then they’re going, the Kyoto news specifically said, flashy displays such as use of smoke at events will be cut, which you know, Pete, we do not need flashy smoke displays. Okay. So

Alison: right now in the United States, we are having. Several wildfires out on the west coast that were started. And I think it’s still allegedly by a pyrotechnic display at a gender reveal party.

So immediately I think flashy displays of pyrotechnics and use of smoke. Probably a good idea to cut. You don’t wanna burn down all of Tokyo. I would agree. So it is also a good safety choice.

Jill: Uh, there’s going to be fewer shuttle buses. They’re going to reduce lights, power generators, and x-ray machines for security at stadiums would not.

I mean, we couldn’t get the whole list, but I would not have put the x-ray machines for security at stadiums as something that got out. Well, I wonder

Alison: if it’s redundancy, like, will you be sort of like when you go to Disney world, you get x-rayed at the entrance. The park. You don’t get x-rayed each time you go on a, a ride,

Jill: right?

So would you have gone gotten x-rayed into like a bigger complex, and then again, going into the main venue? I don’t know. Good question. Uh, we talked about this before. They may use public transportation for officials rather than shuttles. They, I love this one. This is one of my favorites. They’re going to review the food and drink menus for the IOC members and of.


Alison: possibly not, maybe

Jill: not steak, maybe chop

Alison: steak and maybe not five star hotels, four star hotels. It’ll be interesting to see what that actually means. And we won’t know until afterwards, and then reports are done and reporters really get down into the weeds, but it’ll be interesting and looking at it for.

LA, and of course, Paris being next. Do these reductions stick, do these changes really change the culture of the IOC the way they really change the culture of the bidding process from back in the nineties? Or is it just when COVID is done? I want my steak dinner and my free watch. Good

Jill: question. I don’t know.

I, I do wonder, I think some of the IOC members. Understand that the budgets have to change, but we’ll see. I, I would like an IOC member to go rogue with us and talk to us about what actually goes down. Wouldn’t that be? which come on, you know?

Alison: Yes, we could. Maybe what we could. Oh, no. Also

Jill: for the IOC, uh, they’ve canceled the opening ceremony prior to the start of the IOC meeting that happens before the games start and they are cutting back the lounge and food and beverage services that the IOC executives get.

Alison: So they’re just simplifying the whole, because along with every games, the IOC always has a meeting.

Jill: Yes, they’re going to reduce invitations for the opening and closing ceremonies by 20%, push back the opening dates of practice venues cut down on the cleaning service for the athlete’s village. Now that’s

Alison: concerning, especially if what that actually means.

Jill: Yeah. Yeah. It’s a good question. I mean, were they gonna get daily, uh, like sheets changing or something like that? Or was it, is it going to. I, I wonder how thorough their, their housekeeping services is. [00:50:00] And then there’s been talk of making the production of the opening and closing ceremonies, less flashy, but it was noted that making cuts would not go over well with broadcasters and by broadcasters, we pretty much mean NBC

Alison: because the opening ceremonies has gotten out of control for my taste.

Oh, okay. I prefer. The opening ceremonies, going back to the nineties where you really got a sense of the country, pian Chang did a very good job of that. Mm-hmm to be fair Rio, it was too much London too much.

Jill: Do you want to go back to the days where everybody in their seats had like cards underneath and had participation loved.

Alison: I wanna hold up my little card to make, you know, the sea move think that’s because

Jill: didn’t they in pong Chan, they had that, but like digitally didn’t they have it that, yeah,

Alison: they had some like little flashing thing. I would like to take it down a notch. Like one of the things we posted over the summer was this ridiculously adorable song from 1972.

And they had all these German children. In color coded outfits with little flower rings, singing some incredibly old folk tune. I loved that.

Jill: So we need to go back to those days. We do.

Alison: I miss the charm. Everybody keeps wanting to be bigger, bigger. I’m missing the charm. Remember the little creatures that came outta the ground at Lillehammer.

Oh yeah. Charming. I need more charm. Okay. But, but Beijing still has to do the drummers. Oh yes, they do. Oh, basically they could just like stick a hundred drummers there and I’d be like, okay, we’re good. that’s all. I need a whole bunch of guys with drums yelling in rhythm.

Jill: And then finally, they’re going, they’re talking about reducing the number of motor vehicles in the torch relay caravan because they talked.

Making the torch really smaller, but the problem is it goes through all 47 prefectures. So if they shortened it, somebody gets stiffed and you can’t do that to a prefecture who has been waiting for this moment for years.

Alison: It’s favorite child issue. Exactly. So, but they probably, I mean, we’ve seen the torch relay, so you’ve got a, a police escort mm-hmm and the bus that carries

Jill: different torch relay athlete, right?

Yeah. So how, and then there was like a Coke truck and some other stuff. Yeah. Yeah. You don’t need

Alison: all these hangers on yeah. Entourages in general looks like, are going to be reduced.

Jill: That could be, I think that would be a good thing. That would be a good thing. Uh, other news from Tokyo. This is from Ms.

Packaging. The podiums are going to be made of recycled plastic. They made their goal of collecting 24.5 tons of plastic in nine months. And now we’ve got recycled podiums, which is awesome.

Alison: Cannot wait to see what they look like. Cuz I bet they’re gonna be gorgeous. Of course they’re they’re not gonna go half measure with maybe no nos.

They’re gonna really do ’em up. So that look at our beautiful recycled podiums.

Jill: Exactly. That also fits in with the other recycled elements that are all all found throughout these games. So good. Onya Tokyo for doing that. And then on October 24th, the Tokyo aquatics center is going to have its grand opening.

can anybody actually go to, uh, there, you can have, if you live in Tokyo, they will have a facility tour in the afternoon on Saturday, the 24th. So in the morning will be the ceremony in the afternoon will be the tour, which is kind of cool. And those who wish to participate in the tour will need to apply and advance.

So registration starts on Wednesday, October 7th, and it’s first come first serve basis. If you live in Kotaku where the, uh, facility is located, you will get priority. So that’s very cool. You can go to 2020 games, do Metro, Tokyo, JP for information on how to apply. And that is in Japanese.

Alison: Roy Toma. I’m looking at you.

Right. Go and send us a report. Yes.

Jill: All right. Well, we’ve got some news from the, I.

The Olympic channel has cut, uh, cut its communications and public relations staff as part of a restructuring measure, according to inside the games. And this is part of an IOC reorganization, as they quote, adapt to a changing landscape.

Alison: It means COVID is sucking up the [00:55:00] cash.

Jill: Yeah, prob probably, but they’ve created a digital engagement and marketing department and that is now based at Olympic house in loon.

That is interesting news. And congratulations to T B, who is going to receive the soul peace prize. The, uh, soul peace prize, cultural foundation has awarded tach, the recipient of the prize for his outstanding contribution to world peace through sport. That’s

Alison: gonna mean so much to him.

Jill: Oh, right. Because he works really hard to, to bring together North Korea and South Korea done a lot to develop a refugee team.

If you’re gonna give Tiba

Alison: a prize, this was a good one.

Jill: Yes. So congratulations. Dr. Tach. All right, well that will wrap it up for this episode. Tell us your favorite memories from Sydney. 2000.

Alison: Email or call our voicemail hotline at two zero eight. Flame it we’re flame alive pod on Twitter and Insta and keep the flame alive pod group on Facebook.

Jill: Next week, we’ll be back with more stories from the Olympics in Paralympics, as we go out to music by Archdale. Thank you so much for listening. And until next time, keep the flame alive

Nick Zaccardi: time to.

A stomp Andre of what’s inside. Sometimes you.

You never.

Alison: I loved that.