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GAMES HAD GOOD WILL, LITTLE ELSE

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Ted Turner, presented with a decorative keepsake pistol by Russian journalists, pointed it to the ceiling and squeezed the trigger. It misfired.

No moment could have better symbolized the 1994 Goodwill Games.The games of St. Petersburg never really took off. The stadiums were half-empty, the television ratings abysmal and Turner again lost millions of dollars putting them on.

Many of the athletes appeared tired and unmotivated. Some were simply worn out by the series of organizational blunders that threatened to turn the games into a major sports debacle.

"The odyssey is over," games' president Jack Kelly said. "We feel a great deal of pride and accomplishment."

Kelly and Turner were doing their best to put the best possible spin on things as the games wound to a close Sunday with a gold medal for the U.S. women's basketball team and a fireworks ceremony at Kirov Stadium.

"I can't think of anything," said Turner, when asked to single out the main difficulty at the games.

Turner didn't mention the swamp-green water at the SKA pool, dubbed the "Black Lagoon" by some of the competitors, that delayed the swimming events for a day.

There were also the ice-making problems at the Yubileiny Ice Palace, which postponed the start of the figure skating competition and played havoc with the short-track speedskating races.

"Obviously if we could go back and get the ice ready one day earlier, we would do that," Turner said. "I think that was very minor."

The swimming and skating gaffes made the most headlines, but there were other ones throughout the fortnight, such as judging and computer problems at the gymnastics that led to incorrect scores being posted.

Perhaps of even greater concern was the carefree attitude of many of the athletes. Many big names didn't show, and those who did failed to give the Goodwill Games anywhere near the kind of respect associated with the Olympics or even a regular international competition.

"It was kind of like a training (session) for me," said figure skater Surya Bonaly of France.

And she won the gold medal.

Before the flame was extinguished and the "Goodwill Games hymn" sung at the closing ceremony, the U.S. women provided the highlight of the final day's competition with their first major international basketball gold medal since the 1990 world championships.

"This is great for USA basketball at a time when lots of countries think they have surpassed us," point-guard Dawn Staley said after the 87-63 victory over France in the final. "This puts USA basketball back on the map."