ATHENS, Greece, Aug. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- An Olympic Games without emotional
stories is like a day in Athens without sunshine. Since the Opening
Ceremonies began on Friday, Aug. 13, unforgettable moments of triumph and
tragedy have kept sports fans -- and the sentimental -- on the edge of their
seats, and logging onto http://NBCOlympics.com to vote for their favorite
"Kleenex Moment of the Day."
As an official supplier for the U.S. Olympic Team, Kleenex(R) Brand tissue
has captured and chronicled the most unforgettable moments in Athens
throughout the 2004 Olympic Games that struck an emotional chord with
Americans back home.
Each day, NBCOlympics.com featured three new moments from the previous
day's competition, allowing fans to rewind, replay and reminisce about the
emotional moments of the Olympic Games. A photo gallery of images will
continue to run until September 15.
The following Kleenex Moments received the most votes from fans on
1. Carly makes it two in a row
Carly Patterson and her coach were all smiles following another
historic U.S. triumph in all-around gymnastics. A night after gymnast
Paul Hamm's victory, Patterson made the U.S. the only nation other
than the Soviet Union ever to sweep the all-around titles at one
2. Rulon's bronze goodbye
Rulon Gardner won our hearts with an incredible victory in Sydney. He
won Olympic bronze after overcoming a series of injuries and accidents
to qualify for his second Games. The happy, weeping Greco-Roman giant
left his shoes on the mat to declare his retirement.
3. Paul Hamm lands a gold
Paul Hamm nailed the landing on the horizontal bar and knew right then
that he'd just become the first American man ever to win an Olympic
gymnastics all-around title. It was an incredible recovery from what
could have been a disastrous error on the vault, where he fell over on
4. Phelps and Vendt celebrate
Swimmer Michael Phelps is on a singular quest but still a team player.
After a world record performance in the 400m IM, winning the first of
six gold medals, the 19-year-old embraced his teammate Erik Vendt, the
silver medallist. The pair let out celebratory whoops and raised their
arms in victory.
5. Freestyle gold, by a hair
The U.S. pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the Games by winning
the men's 4x200m freestyle relay by the thinnest of margins. The
victory earned Michael Phelps his second gold of the night and ended a
seven-year Australian winning streak. When Klete Keller touched the
wall .13 second before Ian Thorpe, the foursome went wild.
These moments, which often happen outside the realm of competition, give
athletes, and fans alike, memories that last a lifetime. According to John
Naber, a four-time gold medallist and U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame member, the
emotional moments associated with the Olympic Games bring viewers closer to
athletes in a way unlike any other sporting competition.
"When fans watch athletes competing in Olympic Games, they witness
ordinary people achieving the extraordinary," notes Naber. "For that reason,
whether you're sitting in the stadium, at home on your couch, you feel every
bit of excitement, pride, joy and sorrow the athletes do during the Olympic
Past Kleenex Moments of the Olympic Games include wrestler Jeff Blatnick
falling to his knees seconds after winning the gold at the 1984 Los Angeles
Olympic Games, just two years after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease;
Janet Evans passing the Olympic torch to Muhammad Ali during the 1996 Olympic
Games in Atlanta; and Kerri Strug waving to the crowd, from coach Bela
Karolyi's arms after spraining her ankle on her final vault days later.