Host City: Athina, Greece
Date Started: August 18, 2004
Date Finished: August 28, 2004
Participants: 1,995 (1,079 men and 916 women) from 196 countries
Youngest Participant: Katura Marae (14 years, 261 days)
Oldest Participant: Haile Satayin (49 years, 141 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): Veronica Campbell-Brown and Justin Gatlin (3 medals)
Most Medals (Country): United States (25 medals)
The Olympics returned to their birthplace in 2004, with the Games awarded to Athina. In addition, the Athens Organizing Committee brought back several historic sites. The shot put for men and women was held at the Ancient Olympic stadium on the Peloponnesus, with spectators sitting on the grass on the side of the hill overlooking the stadium. It was the first known athletic competition there since the Ancient Games ended in 385 C.E. The marathon race for both men and women was held on a course very similar to the one used at the 1896 Olympics. It started in Marathon and ran to Athina, finishing in the Panhellenic Stadium used for the first Modern Olympics. The athletics competition was initially disrupted on the eve of the Olympics when Konstantinos Kedéris, 2000 men’s 200 champion, and Ekaterini Thanou, 2000 women’s 100 silver medalist, were taken to a hospital after a mysterious motorcycle crash, witnessed by nobody. There were claims of missed drug tests, and that they were avoiding the doping controls, and both withdrew from the Olympics.
The two stars of the competition were Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj and Britain’s Kelly Holmes. El Guerrouj finally won the 1,500 metres, which he had been favored to win in 1996 and 2000. For good measure he added a second gold medal in the 5K. Holmes won the 800 and 1,500 double, her first major international victories of any sort. On the roads, Poland’s Robert Korzeniowski won his third consecutive 50 km. walk, by over four minutes, and then called it a career.