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Reed was on the verge of retirement

Updated: August 19, 2004, 2:34 PM ET
Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece -- Jennie Reed was alone on the track, winding up a twilight practice when the magnitude of the Olympics suddenly hit home.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" -- blaring at the adjacent swimming stadium in honor of Natalie Coughlin's gold medal -- began echoing through the nearly deserted velodrome.

Reed's eyes quickly filled with tears. She let her mind drift away, imagining the view from atop a medal stand, olive wreath on her blond head, gold dangling from her neck, her flag ...

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