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Monday, October 2, 2000
Drinking in spirit

By RYAN PYETTE -- Winnipeg Sun

 SYDNEY -- The massive flow of bodies exiting Olympic Park swept Simon the English bloke onto a train bound for Sydney city.

 Simon's from London. He's 30 years old with a bit of a belly and a balding head, a pretty straightforward-looking fella you probably wouldn't pick out in the crowd unless he carried around a huge four-litre bottle of Heineken.

 Luckily, he was.

 Simon came to the Down Under Games to cheer on all of Great Britain's glorious sporting achievements.

 He didn't get to cheer that much. Medal-wise, Jolly ol' GB ended up the Canada of Europe.

 And Simon had saved up that big bottle of Henie for a special Olympic moment. But here it was, the dying hours of one of the best Olympics ever, the torch was doused and the fireworks lit, and he still hadn't popped its cork.

 Simon looked at the hodge-podge collection of nationalities squished together with him in the train car. He saw them holding their country's flags and singing their country's fight song (all except for the Canadians, who don't have one).

 It was time.

 "This Olympics is a joyful gathering of all the world's nations," announced Simon, holding up the bottle the way hockey players hoist the Stanley Cup. "It's time to celebrate. A representative from each nation shall have a drink."

 The first, Simon insisted, would be the tall, smiling woman from Spain who was standing beside him.

 Simon is not stupid.

 The senorita took a big gulp.

 A man from the Netherlands was next, representing everyone and everything Dutch.

 He was followed by a Swede, a Norweigen, and a German. Then France.

 HEARTY SWIG

 A young man from Vancouver took a hearty swig that earned some applause. We were well-represented.

 Anyone in the train car who was Aussie got a chance, said Simon, in honour of their splendid hospitality.

 A couple of Irish college students, hearing what was going on in the next car, switched, wanting to make sure the homeland wasn't left out of this important international gathering.

 "Very well then," said Simon, handing over the bottle. "Can't keep you guys away from it."

 Simon actually had to pull the bottle from one of the Irish lads. When it comes to beer-drinking, some folks from the Emerald Isle feel they have a reputation to uphold.

 It went on and on. Nigeria. Greece. Russia. Somoa. Albania. New Zealand. Mexico.

 They all took a big sip.

 There was only a little bit left.

 "Now, finally," said Simon. "Is there a YANK here?"

 Everyone looked around. No one answered.

 No one even pretended to be an American in order to get a free drink.

 "Well, good," said Simon, "cos I wouldn't have given a Yank any anyway."

 Everyone cheered. The first thing you notice at the Olympics is no one likes the Superpower.

 Soon after, the train stopped at Central Station. Simon drank the little bit left in the big bottle.

 And this odd collection of people from all the different nations started shuffling off the train.

 Simon gave one final toast.

 "I want to thank Sydney," he shouted, "for a most wonderful Games."

 Everyone cheered and patted Simon on the back. Then, they all rushed off their separate ways.

 A man from South Africa who was in the train car and saw the whole thing turned to his wife.

 "That right there," he told her, "is what the Olympics are all about."
 Sport by Sport
PARALYMPICS
Purdy's golden moment
WRESTLING
IOC strips gold medal
TENNIS
Nestor's golden win hits home
BOXING
Harrison starts in Britain
WEIGHTLIFTING
Bulgarian coach resigns
TRACK & FIELD
Student suspended for e-mail threats
CANOE/KAYAK
Bridesmaid Brunet
PENTATHLON
Brit wins women's modern pentathlon
TRIATHLON
Simon's our man
BASKETBALL
Dream Team hangs on for another gold
WATER POLO
Hungary destroys Russia in title game
GYMNASTICS
Barsukova wins rhythmic gold in an upset
EQUESTRIAN
Wind dashes Millar's medal hopes
VOLLEYBALL
Yugoslavia beats Russia for gold
DIVING
Despatie arrives early
FIELD HOCKEY
Netherlands retains Olympic title
TAEKWONDO
Bosshart wins bronze in taekwondo
SYNCHRO
Ironic performance wins bronze
SAILING
Clarke retires after finishing 17th