Postcard from Athens

Athens 2004

August 26, 2004|By CANDUS THOMSON

That childhood game of "Telephone" has nothing on the ancient and cruel tradition of the post-competition news conference.

Questions and answers must be translated into anywhere from three to 12 languages. By the time the bronze-medal winner gets to answer, no one can remember the question. By the time the athlete responds, we've already moved on to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Like "Telephone," where messages whispered from one child to another become garbled, something always gets lost in the news conference translation.

There is an alternative. Immediately after a competition, journalists become a single organism and thunder to the "mixed zone," an area frighteningly similar to a soccer riot, complete with iron railings and pressed flesh. There, athletes may stop and tell you now excited/thrilled/disappointed they are. Or not. It should be a gold-medal event.

What's ahead today

The U.S. women face Brazil for the soccer gold medal.

Baltimore runners James Carter and Bernard Williams seek medals in, respectively, the 400-meter hurdles and 200 sprint.

The much-maligned U.S. squad tries to get marching toward a medal in the men's basketball quarterfinals against Spain.

The American women play Australia for the bronze in water polo.

Today's TV schedule


12:30 p.m.--4 p.m.: women's soccer*, water polo, synchronized swimming

8 p.m.--midnight: track and field, diving, women's volleyball


10 a.m.--4 p.m.: men's basketball*, women's soccer*, women's handball


7 a.m.--9:30 a.m.: canoeing, men's basketball*


9 a.m.--noon: men's basketball*, modern pentathlon

5 p.m.--8 p.m.: women's field hockey


5 p.m.--8 p.m.: men's basketball, women's volleyball, taekwondo


10:55 a.m.--8 p.m.: women's soccer, men's basketball

Tomorrow's early TV schedule


12:35 a.m.-2 a.m.: track and field, wrestling, men's triathlon

2 a.m.-5 a.m.: prime time replay


Midnight-1 a.m.: sailing, gymnastics


2 a.m.-7 a.m.: track and field, wrestling


1:30 a.m.-3:30 a.m.: soccer

On the Web

For breaking news and results from the Summer Games, go to

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