SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (Sports Network)-
The 2000 Summer Olympics came to a close Sunday night with the tradition of the sparkle of the closing ceremonies. International Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared that the Sydney Olympics were the "best games ever," as there were many dramatic victories, but there were also several doping embarrassments that surrounded these Summer Games.
Australia hosted the 27th Olympiad with class and style, as the Olympic Stadium was filled with more than 100,000 fans each night of the track and field competition.
Fans packed the stadium again Sunday night, many flashing flashlights and chanting "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!" and doing the wave.
The ceremony also featured the Men at Work song "Land Down Under." There were two Royal Air Force f-111s that flew over the stadium, fireworks artists from five continents, 7,000 performers and a parade of famous Australians ranging from model Elle MacPherson, golfer Greg Norman and Crocodile Dundee himself...Paul Hogan. The rock groups INXS and Midnight Oil also performed. The ceremony ended with the unofficial national anthem, "Waltzing Matilda." There was also an extreme pyrotechnics show along the Sydney Harbor.
The Summer Games in Sydney featured several unexpected dramatics. U.S. Greco- Roman wrestler Rulon Gardner won the gold medal by defeating Russian Alexandre Kareline, who was unbeaten for 13 years and didn't allow a point for ten. Gardner's peers elected him to serve as U.S. flagbearer for the closing ceremonies. The American softball team rallied for gold medal after losing a 112-game winning streak and dropping three straight in the tournament. The U.S. men's basketball team was almost beaten, squeaking past Lithuania 85-83 in the semifinals.
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