[ 2004 OLYMPICS ]

Frazier keeps U.S.
in line

The Hawaii athletic director led
America’s 460 athletes around
Olympic Stadium

The Olympics came home yesterday and Greece welcomed the world's athletes with open arms.

Feeling the warm embrace was Herman Frazier, the Hawaii athletic director, who led the 460-member delegation into Olympic Stadium for last night's Opening Ceremony. It was Frazier's sixth Olympics and his first as the U.S.'s Chef de Mission, the team's general manager.

He likely will remember these Games as his favorite. That was the impression he gave during a teleconference call from Athens yesterday with Hawaii media.

"This (Opening Ceremony) is probably the best," Frazier said in a call that came several hours before Hawaii viewers were able to see last night's tape-delayed event. "The lighting of the torch ... when you see it, it will almost blow your socks off.

"The ceremonies were spectacular. They did things very creatively. It was a wonderful evening. The crowd was very warm. This was truly a coming out party for the Greeks."

The American team was the 56th out of a record 202 nations to make its entrance.

"We were on the infield a long time," Frazier said.

And, according to several wire service reports, the U.S. -- and its chef -- enjoyed the time.

Cox News Service reported that "with Frazier leading the cheers as each delegation went by, the Americans did their best to bargain with all the passers-by, trying to score flags, hats, a photo op, whatever. The more exotic the country, the bigger the grin when the Americans succeeded."

Frazier, who won two medals in track at the 1976 Olympics, smiled a lot. It was a mixture of pride, excitement and relief that -- so far -- all is going well.

"I was involved in the briefings and our athletes were told to be on their best behavior," Frazier said. "We wanted them to tone down the behavior and not be the 'Ugly Americans.' I think we were successful tonight.

"There has been a lot of talk about security. We told our athletes' 'We'll take care of the security and you take care of the Olympics.' "

Team USA's goal is 100 medals, which would surpass the 97 won in Sydney in 2000. Frazier said it wasn't being boastful.

"We think it's do-able and we've challenged our national governing bodies to go out and go for the medals," Frazier said. "The only way to measure the success is to put out a medal count."

Frazier said he was happy to see all the U.S. volleyball players representing UH -- Robyn Ah Mow-Santos, Heather Bown and Clay Stanley. And he met with decathlete Bryan Clay, a Castle High graduate, and took pictures with him.

If there's been any surprise for Frazier, it's been that there have been no surprises. The U.S. athletes were well-behaved, venues were completed and security was tight but not oppressive.

Security will include the Secret Service today when Frazier attends a sponsor's reception with former President George H.W. Bush and former L.A. Olympic Organizing Committee chairman Peter Ueberroth. It's just part of Frazier's busy day that will include the U.S. softball game against Italy, the U.S. women's basketball game against New Zealand and late-night beach volleyball matches.

Besides his USOC duties, Frazier is also trying to stay on top of UH athletics and do his best to promote the university when he can by wearing UH attire.

"They tell us what to wear most of the time, but when we have free time, then we can put on Hawaii clothes," Frazier said. "The other day, I wore a Hawaii NIT basketball shirt in my office. It's amazing the comments from people and how they all think of Hawaii as one of the most beautiful places in the world."

After a long day, Frazier was ready for a few hours of sleep before starting another long day today.

"It's been a wonderful journey so far," he said. "After the successful ceremonies, let the Games begin."



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