The 2000 Sydney Olympics were celebrated between the 15th September and the 1st October, marking the second time that the Summer Olympics had been held in the Southern Hemisphere since 1956.

Kicking off with the Australian stockmen and stock horses; a tribute to the Australian pastoral heritage, a record 199 nations entered the games with a staggering 80 winning at least one medal.

Poster girl for the Sydney Olympics, Cathy Freeman faced enormous pressure to win gold in front of her home fans but she lived up to her reputation by becoming the Olympic champion in the women’s 400 metres.

The Sydney Games also proved one of the best performances by Great Britain, with a total of 28 medals being won by British competitors.

Amongst these British winners was Denise Lewis who won Gold in the women’s heptathlon. This particular event is considered one of the toughest of tests for female athletes and following her success Denise was considered a golden girl in the world of British Olympics.

As well as being a fantastic motivational speaker Denise has a wealth of TV experience and was awarded an OBE in 2001. After retiring from athletics she has appeared as a regular athletics pundit for BBC Television and even took part in the popular TV show ‘Strictly Come Dancing.’ Denise is currently a presenter for the London 2012 Olympic Games and regularly gives motivational talks and presentations to a wide range of audiences.

Joining Denise in her Olympic success in Sydney was Ben Ainslie who won a Gold medal for Sailing in the Laser event. Ben is also a confident event speaker and having being named Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor ever he has a great deal of passion and enthusiasm for the topics he covers.

Amongst the success and record number of medal winners at the 2000 Sydney Olympics there was also controversy around the women’s gymnastics final, which saw gymnast after gymnast fall from the vault. Even after several gymnasts were injured and many shaken up it wasn’t until the second round that it was discovered that the vault had been set 5cm too low which was just enough difference to throw these athletes from their timing.

The final event of the games was the men’s marathon beginning in North Sydney and for the first time since 1968 it was won by an Ethiopian named Genzhnge Abera.

Other notable British medal winners for these games included Steve Backley winning Silver in the mens javelin, Jonathan Edwards achieving a Gold medal in the triple jump and Kelly Holmes winning Bronze in the 800m.

Aug 9, 2012 By Lucy Thorpe