High drama marks Olympic windup

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A weekend filled with spectacular highs, but also containing more than its share of heartbreak and controversy, brought the XXIII Olympics to a dramatic and memorable conclusion.

Carl Lewis, who earlier had won the 100 and 200 meter dashes plus the long jump, ran into the history books when he anchored the victorious US 4x100 relay team to match Jesse Owen's 1936 feat of four gold medals. Also etching their names into the all-time annals were Britishers Daley Thompson, who equaled Bob Mathias's record of two decathlon championships, and Sebastian Coe, who in matching his Moscow record of silver in the 800 and gold in the 1,500 became the first man ever to win the featured metric mile twice.

And those were only a few of the highlights as the 15 days of competition drew to an exciting close.

Recommended: 2012 Olympic quiz, Part II: Are you a gold medalist?

Valerie Brisco-Hooks added the women's 200 to her earlier 400-meter victory, then ran on the winning 4x400 relay team to wind up with three gold medals. The US basketball team overwhelmed all competition to the end as expected; American boxers also dominated their sport, winning 9 golds and 11 medals overall; and the volleyball team reversed a preliminary round loss by sweeping Brazil in the championship game for the first-ever American gold medal in that sport.

The most heart-wrenching moment, of course, occurred in the women's 3,000, when Mary Decker fell after a collison with Zola Budd, losing still another chance for the gold medal which has eluded her so long (see accompanying story). Budd, injured and knocked off stride by the incident, also lost whatever chance she might have had and eventually faded to seventh place. Almost overlooked in all this, however, was the fact that the woman whose name will be the answer to a future trivia question - Marcica Puica of Romania - appeared to be running very strongly at the time and might well have gone on to win the race regardless. Puica is certainly no trivial runner; indeed, she was picked by many experts to win the race beforehand, and she showed her ability by coming back just one night later to close with a rush for the bronze in the women's 1, 500.

Another disappointed runner, though not through any untoward incident in his race, was US steeplechase favorite Henry Marsh, whose long quest for an Olympic medal fell short via a fourth-place finish as Kenya's Julius Korir took the gold.

A big upset also occured in the men's high jump, where world record holder Zhu Jianhua of China had to settle for the bronze and two-time medalist Dwight Stones of the United States missed out altogether as West Germany's Dietmar Mogenburg won the gold in a duel with Patrik Sjoberg of Sweden.

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