Sydney 2000

Sydney 2000

In September, 2000, the residents of the HarbourCity and the people of Australia set the benchmark of how future Olympics would be measured by staging what IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch ultimately described as “the best Olympic Games ever.” 

The Opening Ceremony on September 15 began with a lone horseman galloping his mount to the centre of the Olympic Stadium in front of 110,000 spectators. The entire production was a celebration of the Australian continent. During the Parade of Nations, North and South Korea marched together under the same flag, and four athletes from East Timor received a tremendous cheer as they paraded behind the IOC flag. The last team to appear in the stadium was Australia, with five-time Olympian and basketball captain Andrew Gaze proudly waving the flag at the front of Australia’s largest-ever team of 632 athletes.

Sydney 2000 marked a century of women’s participation in the Olympics. To recognise this, some of Australia’s finest female athletes carried the torch inside the stadium. Betty Cuthbert, the Golden Girl of the Melbourne Olympics, was pushed in a wheelchair by Raelene Boyle (Cuthbert’s movement was impaired by multiple sclerosis). Next, legends Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland, Shane Gould and Debbie Flintoff-King all ran with the torch. Flintoff-King, the last Australian track gold medallist, then passed the torch to Cathy Freeman.

Australia at these Games

Since Sydney had been elected to host the Games in 1993, expectations had been high that the team chosen to represent Australia would be one of the most impressive ever. In front of always-vocal home fans, the Australian team lived up to this billing, achieving outstanding results across the spectrum of sports. Australia won 58 medals – 16 gold, 25 silver and 17 bronze – to finish fourth on the medal table behind the United States, Russia and China.

A team of 632 athletes, 349 men and 283 women, competed in the Games. Australia had representatives in each of the 28 sports on the program. Basketballer Andrew Gaze, at his fifth Olympics, carried the flag in the Opening Ceremony. The Olympic Oath was read on behalf of all athletes by hockey’s Rechelle Hawkes, who would end her career in Sydney as a triple Olympic champion.

The honour of carrying the Australian flag in the Closing Ceremony was given to one of the team’s youngest members, 17-year-old Ian Thorpe. He was, of course, also one of the true stars of the Games, winning five medals – three gold and two silver. Thorpe’s two gold medals on the opening night of competition, breaking a world record in the 400m freestyle and then coming from behind in the anchor leg to beat the dominant Americans in the 4x100m freestyle relay, ignited the Games. His other gold was in the 4x200m freestyle. Besides Cathy Freeman, he was the most celebrated champion of the Games.

Australia’s other gold medallists in the pool were all worthy champions, including a strong squad of men’s relay swimmers. The other individual gold medallists were Susie O’Neill, winner of the 200m freestyle and three silver medals; and 1500m freestyle champion Grant Hackett, with defending champion Kieren Perkins placing second.

The swimmers weren’t the only water babies to enjoy success. Australia scored a heart-stopping win in the first women’s water polo final, beating favourites the United States 4-3 after a last-second goal from Yvette Higgins. Sailing provided two gold medals, both in the 470 dinghy class, with Tom King and Mark Turnbull winning the men’s event and Jenny Armstrong and Belinda Stowell the women’s gold.

At the main stadium, Freeman’s 400m gold medal shone brighter than any other trophy awarded at the Games. There was also success in less publicised sports. Simon Fairweather gave Australia its first archery medal when he won gold in the men’s individual event. Shotgun shooter Michael Diamond won his second consecutive gold medal in men’s trap. Lauren Burns won the 49kg taekwondo crown, while beach volleyballers Kerri-Ann Pottharst and Natalie Cook set BondiBeach ablaze by winning gold.

Australia also celebrated in three sports in which it is traditionally strong. Cyclists Brett Aitken and Scott McGrory teamed up to win the Madison event at the 'Dunc' Gray Velodrome. The Hockeyroos, Australia’s celebrated women’s hockey team, won its third gold medal from the past four Games, defeating Argentina 3-1 in the final. More than 10 million Australians watched the final on TV. Another popular victory occurred when the three-day eventing team of Phillip Dutton, Andrew Hoy, Matt Ryan and Stuart Tinney won Australia its third consecutive gold medal in the glamour equestrian event.   

The success of the Australian team was not just in the medals; it was in the spirit and camaraderie shown within the team and externally with spectators, volunteers, officials and international competitors. The athletes were the star performers of one of the happiest moments in Australian history. It will long remain a golden Games for Australia.

Australian Olympians At The Games

Flag Bearers

Olympian Name Ceremony
Andrew Gaze Opening
Ian Thorpe Closing

Australian Medallists At The Games

Olympian Name Sport Medals
Brett Aitken Cycling - Track
1
Katie Allen Hockey
1
Kate Allen (Slatter) Rowing
1
Al Annan (Caldas) Hockey
1
Jenny Armstrong Sailing
1
Darren Balmforth Rowing
1
Michael Blackburn Sailing
1
Katrin Borchert Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Carla Boyd Basketball
1
Michael Brennan Hockey
1
Michelle Brogan Basketball
1
Sandy Brondello Basketball
1
Joanne Brown (Alchin) Softball
1
Dyana Brown (Calub) Swimming
1
Darren Bundock Sailing
1
Simon Burgess Rowing
1
Annie Burgess (la Fleur) Basketball
1
Daniel Burke Rowing
1
Lauren Burns Taekwondo
1
Selina Follas Softball
1
Ashley Callus Swimming
1
Lisa Carruthers (Powell) Hockey
1
Joanne Fox Water Polo
1
Daniel Collins Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Adam Commens Hockey
1
Nat Cook Beach Volleyball
1
Fiona Crawford (Hanes) Softball
1
Stephen Davies Hockey
1
Michael Diamond Shooting
1
Kerry Dienelt Softball
1
Damon Diletti Hockey
1
Ben Dodwell Rowing
1
Lachie Dreher Hockey
1
Jason Duff Hockey
1
Phillip Dutton Equestrian - Eventing
1
Rachel Imison Hockey
1
Sean Eadie Cycling - Track
1
Peta Edebone Softball
1
Anthony Edwards Rowing
1
Troy Elder Hockey
1
Jimmy Elmer Hockey
1
Sue Fairhurst Softball
1
Simon Fairweather Archery
1
Trish Fallon Basketball
1
Jaime Fernandez Rowing
1
Michelle Ferris Cycling - Track
1
John Forbes Sailing
1
Annemarie Forder Shooting
1
Simone Hankin Water Polo
1
Cathy Freeman Athletics
1
Fydler Chris Swimming
1
Renita Garard (Farrell) Hockey
1
Paul Gaudoin Hockey
1
Alastair Gordon Rowing
1
Tatiana Grigorieva Athletics
1
Grant Hackett Swimming
2
Boden Hanson Rowing
1
Kelly Hardie Softball
1
Tanya Harding Softball
1
Regan Harrison Swimming
1
Juliet Haslam Hockey
1
Rechelle Hawkes Hockey
1
Brett Hayman Rowing
1
Yvette Higgins Water Polo
1
Joanne Hill Basketball
1
Darryn Hill Cycling - Track
1
Stephen Holt Hockey
1
Kate Hooper Water Polo
1
Andrew Hoy Equestrian - Eventing
1
1
Nikki Hudson (Mott) Hockey
1
Geoff Huegill Swimming
1
1
Bridgette Ireland (Gusterson) Water Polo
1
Lauren Jackson Basketball
1
Robert Jahrling Rowing
1
Michellie Jones Triathlon
1
Leisel Jones Swimming
2
Shane Kelly Cycling - Track
1
Tom King Sailing
1
William Kirby Swimming
1
Michael Klim Swimming
2
2
Daniel Kowalski Swimming
1
Angie Lambert (Skirving) Hockey
1
Sandra Lewis (Allen) Softball
1
Brent Livermore Hockey
1
Matthew Long Rowing
1
Clover Maitland Hockey
1
Rebecca Manuel (Gilmore) Diving
1
Russell Mark Shooting
1
Naomi McCarthy (Castle) Water Polo
1
Sally McCreedy (McDermid) Softball
1
Bradley McGee Cycling - Track
1
Scott McGrory Cycling - Track
1
Mike McKay Rowing
1
Gail Miller Water Polo
1
Melissa Mills Water Polo
1
Ryan Mitchell Swimming
1
Claire Mitchell-Taverner Hockey
1
Jenny Morris Hockey
1
Simmone Morrow Softball
1
Gary Neiwand Cycling - Track
1
1
Robert Newbery Diving
1
Justin Norris Swimming
1
Susie O'Neill Swimming
1
3
Todd Pearson Swimming
2
Alison Peek Hockey
1
Maria Pekli Judo
1
Kieren Perkins Swimming
1
Adam Pine Swimming
1
1
Nicholas Porzig Rowing
1
Kerri Pottharst Beach Volleyball
1
Katrina Powell Hockey
1
Dean Pullar Diving
1
Robert Richards Rowing
1
Melanie Roche Softball
1
Giaan Rooney Swimming
2
Sarah Ryan Swimming
1
Matt Ryan Equestrian - Eventing
1
Christian Ryan Rowing
1
Shelley Sandie (Gorman) Basketball
1
Liz Weekes Water Polo
1
Bronwyn Smith (Mayer) Water Polo
1
Rachael Sporn Basketball
1
Daniel Sproule Hockey
1
Jay Stacy Hockey
1
Kathryn Starre Hockey
1
James Stewart Rowing
1
Geoff Stewart Rowing
1
Belinda Stowell Sailing
1
Jai Taurima Athletics
1
Rachael Taylor Rowing
1
Petria Thomas Swimming
2
1
Kirsten Thomson Swimming
1
Ian Thorpe Swimming
3
2
Michele Timms Basketball
1
Stuart Tinney Equestrian - Eventing
1
Natalie Titcume Softball
1
James Tomkins Rowing
1
Julie Towers Hockey
1
Daniel Trenton Taekwondo
1
Andrew Trim Canoe/Kayak - Sprint
1
Mark Turnbull Sailing
1
Jacinta Van Lint Swimming
1
Craig Victory Hockey
1
Ji Wallace Gymnastics - Trampoline
1
Natalie Ward Softball
1
Josh Watson Swimming
1
Debbie Watson Water Polo
1
Stuart Welch Rowing
1
Matt Wells Hockey
1
Matt Welsh Swimming
2
1
Elka Whalan (Graham) Swimming
1
Tarnee White Swimming
1
Jenny Whittle Basketball
1
Loudy Wiggins (Tourky) Diving
1
Brooke Wilkins Softball
1
Kristi Harrower Basketball
1
Todd Woodbridge Tennis
1
Mark Woodforde Tennis
1
Dani Woodhouse (Gusterson) Water Polo
1
Taryn Woods Water Polo
1
Michael York Hockey
1

History

In September, 2000, the residents of the HarbourCity and the people of Australia set the benchmark of how future Olympics would be measured by staging what IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch ultimately described as “the best Olympic Games ever.” 

The Opening Ceremony on September 15 began with a lone horseman galloping his mount to the centre of the Olympic Stadium in front of 110,000 spectators. The entire production was a celebration of the Australian continent. During the Parade of Nations, North and South Korea marched together under the same flag, and four athletes from East Timor received a tremendous cheer as they paraded behind the IOC flag. The last team to appear in the stadium was Australia, with five-time Olympian and basketball captain Andrew Gaze proudly waving the flag at the front of Australia’s largest-ever team of 632 athletes.

Sydney 2000 marked a century of women’s participation in the Olympics. To recognise this, some of Australia’s finest female athletes carried the torch inside the stadium. Betty Cuthbert, the Golden Girl of the Melbourne Olympics, was pushed in a wheelchair by Raelene Boyle (Cuthbert’s movement was impaired by multiple sclerosis). Next, legends Dawn Fraser, Shirley Strickland, Shane Gould and Debbie Flintoff-King all ran with the torch. Flintoff-King, the last Australian track gold medallist, then passed the torch to Cathy Freeman.

Freeman, who had been a secret selection to light the Olympic flame, then ran up four flights of stairs, crossed a shallow pond and lit a ring of fire around her. After a nervous delay, the cauldron then rose above her head and made the slow journey up a waterfall to the top of the Olympic Stadium. Ten days later in the same stadium Freeman withstood immense public pressure to win the 400m final in the most anticipated race of the Games. It remains for many one of the greatest sporting highlights in our nation’s history. Fittingly, it was also Australia’s 100th Olympic gold medal since the first modern Games in 1896. 

The Australian public supported every sport and every nation at the Games, turning the Olympics into one giant festive, all-inclusive party of goodwill and great competition. The most memorable images include the debut of triathlon at the Games on a course that included a swim in Sydney Harbour and finished in front of the Sydney Opera House, marathon runners crossing the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, gold medallists Kerri-Ann Pottharst and Natalie Cook providing the perfect climax to a 10-day beach volleyball party on Bondi Beach, and the swimming venue coming alive to the tune of wild applause as Australian swimmers, led by Ian Thorpe, excelled.

There were many outstanding performances in Sydney. Great Britain’s Steve Redgrave became the first rower to win gold medals at five consecutive Olympics. Dutch cyclist Leontien Zijlaard overcame an eating disorder to win three gold, making it one of the most uplifting stories of the Games. Dutch swimmers Pieter van den Hoogenband and Inge de Bruijn each won multiple gold medals.

The brilliant Cuban women’s volleyball team won a record third consecutive gold medal. Another Cuban hero, heavyweight boxer Felix Savon, won his third gold medal, equalling the gold medal record in his sport. China swept all four table tennis events, a feat it also achieved in 1996. Athletics champs included 400m idol Michael Johnson of the US, British triple jumper Jonathan Edwards, Czech javelin ace Jan Zelezny, and American female pole vaulter Stacy Dragila.

One of the surprises of the Games occurred when Russian wrestling giant Alexander Karelin endured his first Olympic defeat after three gold medals when he lost to American farm boy Rulon Gardner in the final of the super-heavyweight Greco-Roman event. Another was the win of Switzerland’s Brigitte McMahon in the women’s triathlon on the first morning of Olympic competition, racing past Australian idol Michellie Jones in the shadow of the Opera House to become the sport’s first Olympic champion.

More than 10,000 athletes from 199 nations took part in the Sydney Games. Triathlon and taekwondo were new sports, while other new events included trampolining in gymnastics and a women’s event in modern pentathlon. The United States led the medal table with 40 gold.

Games Trivia

Emblem

The official logo featured the stylised image of a runner in motion and was designed by leading Melbourne graphic design firm, FHA Image Design.

The bid logo featured a stylised image of the Sydney Opera House and was designed by Michael Bryce whose wife Quentin would become Governor of Queensland in 2003 and Governor-General of Australia in 2008.

Motto

The motto of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games was Share the Spirit

Mascots

There were three official mascots of the Sydney Games"

Syd the Platypus — 'Syd' was named for 'Sydney', the host city for the Games
Millie the Echidna — 'Millie' was named for 'Millennium'
Olly the Kookaburra — 'Olly' was named for 'Olympics'

Coins into Medals

Australian 1 and 2 cent coins which were taken out of circulation in 1991 were melted down and made into the bronze medals given out at the Games.

Coins

Media

Galleries

Videos

Thank You Sponsors

Did you know?

Colin Coates (Speed Skating) has attended 6 Winter Games: 1968, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988.