Sporting heroes tend to be shooting stars, but Steve Redgrave just keeps on shining. In Sydney, the 38-year-old British rower achieved the unprecedented for endurance events: five consecutive Olympic gold medals.
When the hype died down and the Games finally got under way, the highly touted American athlete didn't reach her target of five golds. But she did run away with three, plus a pair of bronzes, and electrified the crowds.
Golf's greatest can outswing a pendulum and has the concentration of a chess grandmaster. This year he added to his trophy cabinet the British and U.S. Opens and the U.S. PGA, among other prizes. The greatest golfer ever? Probably. The richest? Certainly.
PIETER VAN DEN HOOGENBAND AND INJE DE BRUIJN
Sydney's Olympic pool produced more records than the Beatles, among them homegrown Ian Thorpe's. But it was the Dutch duo who truly walked on water. Van den Hoogenband set two world records on the way to 200-m and 100-m freestyle golds; de Bruijn set three en route to winning the 100-m butterfly, as well as the 50-m and 100-m free.
VENUS AND SERENA WILLIAMS
The two American tennis players proved true to their father's ambitious prophesies, between them claiming Wimbledon's singles and doubles crowns, a sisterly first. They repeated the performance in Sydney, and Venus took the U.S. Open for good measure.
The Ethiopian runner, unbeaten over 10,000 m since 1993, had his closest call. After nearly half an hour of running in Sydney, he edged out the stringy Kenyan Paul Tergat by just 0.09 sec. in the most exciting finish to any event in 2000.
The German racer drove in his inimitable, aggressive style to his third Formula One crown. It was his most impressive F1 title to date, because he did it in a car that had not won one since 1979: Italy's red-hot Ferrari.
The inspiring American repeated his win in the Tour de France, again proving that there can be life and success after cancer. French authorities are investigating allegations that his team, U.S. Postal, used performance-enhancing substances. The team denies any illegality.
Only 13 when she won gold at Barcelona, the Chinese diver tucked two more under her belt at Atlanta. In Sydney, she won a fourth, on the 3-m springboard.
AUSTRALIA'S TEST CRICKETERS
Steve Waugh's men made a strong claim to being the game's greatest ever team; by defeating a hapless West Indian outfit in Perth, the side set a record of 12 consecutive Test victories.
IT'S NOT CRCKET
Former captains Hansie Cronje of South Africa and Mohammad Azharuddin of India have shown that the sport is far from a gentleman's game. Revelations by Indian police of match-fixing by Cronje triggered an investigation that implicated many of the world's past and present cricketing heroes. Both have been banned for life.