Last Chance Champs

PHIL COLE/GETTY IMAGES

AGONY OR ECSTASY? For Navratilova, Athens will be the first and last opportunity for Olympic glory

No kid watching Olympians compete on TV ever daydreams about bringing home the bronze. And there's no oomph to the idea of going for the silver. Let's be honest: the Games are about the gold — and not only for personal glory. "A gold medal," says Moroccan runner Hicham El Guerrouj, "would mean getting into the history books for my country."

So how does it feel to climb nearly to the pinnacle of a sport and be stopped just short of the top? A handful of the world's best athletes have set world records, won world titles and...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!