Erki Nööl. Estonia. Athletics. Olympic achievements: 2000; gold. One of the best decathletes of the late 1990's and the Millenium. I admire decathletes for being incredibly skilled in so many disciplines. I admire their willingness to become great in their craft and thereby some of the better prepared sportsmen on Earth. Apart from that Nööl comes from a small, but very proud nation, which irrelevant in size, but is relevant enough to have produced the most complete athlete of the 2000 Olympics. Too bad Erki is retiring, but still I admire his determination.
Roman Šebrle. Czechia. Athletics. Olympic achievements: 2000; silver; 2004; gold. The best decathlete of the past quadriennium. I have to admit I first liked him because of his very hot looks, but later I got over it and just concentrated more on his immense talent. Another guy from a small but very proud nation. Decathlon has got to be one the most demanding and at the same time one of the cruelest disciplines. Decathletes have to take part in 10 grueling events yet there's only 3 medals and lots of pain on the way, and no recognition whatsoever I you don't do go past a certain number of points. I love Decathlon, let it deliver us more awesome performances like we have seen.
Michelle Kwan. United States. Figure Skating. Olympic achievements: 1998; silver, 2002; bronze. She's actually made me cry. Another athlete I've sort of grown up with. She's ruled the sport of Figure Skating since 1996, however, she's yet to skate a satisfactory program at the Olympic Games, and if my worst premonitions happen, she may leave skating without the Gold, which would put her sort of in the same league of succesful-yet-tragic-athletic-queens as, say, Franzi van Almsick. I'm going to be cheering for her come the 2006 Olympics, and I'm going to cry like Mary Magdalene if she doesn't get the gold. I love Kwan basically because of her determination and persue of absolute excellency. I'm convinced she's matured into an artist and hopefully she'll give us a lot more.
Aleksandr Karelin. Russia. Wrestling. Olympic achievements: 1988, '92, '96; gold, 2000; silver. Contemporary Greco-Roman wrestling has been fortunate enough to see the mighty Karelin in action and absolutely dominate the sport for many years. The man is an imposing figure, he's also a bit mysterious and quite reserved, not the flashy diva you may expect from someone that didn't lose a bout in 15 years. His winning streak ended in Sydney 2000, but still the absolute excellence of Karelin has not stopped to impress me and inspire me to kick the sorry asses of my rivals just like this mightly Siberian did.