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Peace, love and the Sydney Olympics

11 September 2015

SYDNEY 2000: If you had to nominate the iconic moment of the Sydney Olympics, it would be hard to argue against Cathy Freeman sprinting to gold after months of intense pressure.

But 15 years down the track, Sydneysiders are just as likely to reminisce about the vibe of those 17 spring days, when a haze of goodwill and fun descended over this cosmopolitan, fast-paced city.

Sydney is used to big, bright, shiny events on a regular basis, but nothing on the Olympic scale.

The vibe was cranked up to 11 just before Freeman lit the cauldron, and the good vibrations flowed out from Homebush Bay across the nation and beyond.

It was evident as people happily forked out hard-earned cash to cheer on athletes from nations they'd never heard of competing in sports they'd normally avoid.

It was going home on a high each night to watch The Dream, with Roy Slaven and HG Nelson championing Fatso the Fat-Arsed Wombat as the unofficial Games mascot and cheekily mocking New Zealand's "bronze avalanche" in rowing.

It might seem cliched, but people of all ages, nationalities, creeds and colours united in joy for a few weeks.

The sun shone, trains and buses ran on time, Sydneysiders were nice to each other and Australia basked in the golden glow created by our athletes.

Pubs, clubs and live sites were filled with locals and visitors sharing stories, beers and memories.

Denmark's royal succession even became assured after Prince Fred chatted up "our Mary" in a swanky Sydney pub while slumming it as an Olympic sailor.

The Games volunteers, clad in shirts unlikely ever to be imitated, became much-loved dispensers of information and free hugs.

We even treated those Olympic pin-collecting nutbags with bemused respect.

AAP


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