Triathlon and taekwondo were two new additions to the Olympic programme. Susanthika Jayasinghe became the first Sri Lankan woman to win a medal, claiming bronze in the 200m, whilst Birgit Fischer earned two gold medals in kayaking to become the first woman in any sport to win medals 20 years apart. Women also took part in weightlifting and the modern pentathlon for the very first time.
Ryoko Tamura had lost in the judo 48kg final in both Barcelona and Atlanta, but came back to win the gold medal in Sydney. Steven Redgrave gained sporting immortality by becoming the first rower to win gold medals at five consecutive Olympic Games. In the 400m freestyle, 17-year old Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe won gold by breaking his own world record in front of a jubilant home crowd.
Cathy Freeman, the Australian athlete, had the honour of lighting the Olympic torch at the Opening Ceremony. This emotional moment helped symbolise the desire to reconcile with the Aboriginal populations of Australia. Ten days later, she won the 400m final before an ecstatic crowd.