Up, Up and Away

AMY SANCETTA/AP

HI HO SILVER: Romania's Marius Daniel Urzica came second on the pommel horse

As the games raced through their indelible final weekend, leaving shattered records and storybook upsets in their wake, 21,000 reporters began trying to set this Olympiad in amber — to identify what made it different from all those that have gone before. But the Summer Games are designed to resist the imposition of narrative. Two hundred and two countries, 301 medal events, 10,500 competitors — one story line? Not likely.

And so the teams of Athens 2004 head home telling very different tales. For the Chinese, with their best-ever haul of gold medals, this was the year when...

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