The Sydney Olympics were famously called the "best games ever" by Olympic Committee President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Ahead of its 20th anniversary in September, we look back at five aspects of the event that thrilled Australians and were diligently covered by AAP photographers and our partner agencies.
To view these images and many more from the 2000 games, view our curated highlights gallery on AAP Photos.
Two blockbuster ceremonies
The opening and closing ceremonies were full of memorable moments, from Nikki Webster's debut to an array of colourful floats and Cathy Freeman lighting the Olympic flame.
Flag bearer Andrew Gaze, set to compete in his fifth consecutive Olympics, leads the Australian team onto the field during the opening ceremony on September 15, 2000. Teams from 200 countries strode onto the newly minted Olympic Stadium, welcomed by 110,000 cheering fans. Image by Robert F Bukaty for AP/AAP.
Nikki Webster performs at the opening ceremony. Image by Jeff Crow for Sport The Library/AAP.
Australian runner Cathy Freeman stands under the Olympic torch after lighting the flame at the opening ceremony. Image by Kevin Frayer for AP/AAP.
Thousands of dancers and giant dolls fill the Olympic Stadium as John Paul Young performs his hit song Love is in the Air at the closing ceremony on October 1. Image by Julian Smith for AAP.
Kylie Minogue sings Dancing Queen during the closing ceremony. Image by Dave Hunt for AAP.
Cathy Freeman claims an unforgettable victory
Freeman cemented her place as one of our most successful athletes ever by winning gold in the women's 400m finals, with ecstatic Australians everywhere watching on.
Cathy Freeman carries the Australian and Aboriginal flags while walking a lap of honour after winning gold in the Women's 400m Finals on September 25. Image by Dean Lewins for AAP.
Freeman shows off her Olympic gold medal after winning the 400m. Image by Julian Smith for AAP.
Australia's champion swimming team
Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Kieren Perkins, Leisel Jones, Susie O'Neill... just to name a few. It was thrilling to watch Australia's superstar swimming team dominate in the pool and offer plenty of entertainment along the way.
From left, Ashley Callus, Chris Fydler, Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe celebrate winning the men's 4 x 100m freestyle final on September 16. The victors famously mimicked playing guitars in reference to a comment by American swimmer Gary Hall Junior, who said the rival US team would "smash the Aussies like guitars". Image by Mark Horsburgh for Sport The Library/AAP.
Thorpe celebrates after he and his three teammates smashed two world records in the race. Image by Julian Smith for AAP.
Leisel Jones holds up her silver medal won in the women's 100m breaststroke event on September 18. Image by Mark Horsburgh for Sport The Library/AAP.
Susie O'Neill competes in the women's 100m butterfly final on September 19. Image by Jeff Crow for Sport The Library/AAP.
Heroics, heartbreaks and other headline-making stories
The Aussie spirit behind Sydney 2000 propelled some local athletes to success, while others left empty-handed.
Australian archer Simon Fairweather holds his bow in victory after winning the gold medal in the men's individual event on September 20. His medal was the first won by Australia for archery ever at the Olympics. Image by Greg Baker for AP/AAP.
The Australian women's hockey team show off their gold medals after defeating Argentina in the women's hockey final on September 29. The Hockeyroos have been named one of Australia's most successful sporting teams, having won the Olympic title three times in Seoul 1988, Atlanta 1996, and Sydney 2000. Image by Dean Lewins for AAP.
Australian race walker Jane Saville stands outside Olympic Stadium after she was disqualified from the women's 20km walk final for an illegal gait on September 28. The moment was devastating for Saville and Australians watching on, but she later won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Image by Laura Rauch for AP/AAP.
Australia's Lauren Burns, pictured in the arms of her coach Jin Tae Jeong, celebrates winning the final of the women's 49 kilo Taekwondo division on September 27. Burns made history by winning Australia's first Olympic gold medal in the sport. Image by Russell McPhedran for AP/AAP.
Sydney abuzz with volunteers and good vibes
An army of 45,000 volunteers kept Sydney 2000 running, while others flocked to the harbourside city to attend the events and soak up the atmosphere.
Australians have fun in the crowd on September 29. Image by Dean Lewins for AAP.
Volunteers participate in a parade through Sydney's streets honouring those who donated their time to make the games a success. Image by Dean Lewins for AAP.
The closing ceremony fireworks erupt over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House on October 1. Image by Steve Holland for AP/AAP.
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