EU claims 'victory' over US in Athens

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By (REUTERS)
  • Published 31.08.04
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Brussels: The European Union claimed on Monday that it was the true champion of the Athens Olympics, taking far more gold medals than the United States, the official winners of the most first places at the Games.

The 25 EU member states compete as individual nations in Olympics, but that did not stop the EU’s executive European Commission from adding up their scores.

“With 82 gold medals and all together 286 medals, the European Union swept the floor in the Olympic Games,” chief spokesman Reijo Kemppinen told a daily news briefing. “For the sake of comparison, the United States of America won 35 gold medals and 103 medals in total, with China and Russia behind them (the United States).”

He also said that European Commission president Romano Prodi hoped that the blue EU flag with its 12 gold stars would be featured for the first time at the 2008 Beijing Games. “The President hopes that in the next Olympic Games EU member states will carry the EU flag alongside their national flags as a sign of unity.”

The EU’s “magnificent performance”, he said, was led by Germany, which took 14 gold medals and 48 medals in total at the Games, with France, Italy and Britain close behind.

“We were very strong in sports like athletics with 12 gold and 37 in total, and water sports where the European Union teams practically dominated races in sailing and rowing, winning ... more than half of gold medals and total medals,” Kemppinen said.

However, the Commission did concede there were sports where the EU had failed to impress such as baseball, boxing and weightlifting, winning only four of 45 medals available.

Kemppinen predicted that the European Union would improve its medal taking at the 2008 Beijing Olympics by which time Bulgaria and Romania are due to have joined the bloc, enabling the EU to take on China and Japan in sports such as gymnastics.