Balad Area Citizens Celebrate Olympic Victory

13th COSCOM PAO

LSA ANACONDA, BALAD, Iraq — Local Iraqi workers employed here shared their national pride with Anaconda soldiers August 13 after Iraq earned one of the first victories of the 2004 Summer Olympic games.

Iraq defeated Portugal 4 to 2 in the opening round of the Olympic soccer tournament in Athens August 12.

There was singing and dancing {around Balad}, said Mr. Falah. This is the biggest happiness we have had.

Falah and other workers at a construction site here declined to give their full names but could hardly contain their enthusiasm. The workers began celebrating before the translator finished repeating the first question.

This is the first good thing, the start for a good Iraq, said another area resident. When Sadaam was here things were bad but now they are good, he said.

Beating Portugal was a major upset as the Portuguese nearly won the Euro 2004 tournament.

This game gives the Iraqi people a new hope, said another worker.

Since the first Gulf War, Iraq had been restricted from many international sports tournaments as the result of United Nations sanctions.

Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, the commanding general of the 13th COSCOM said for the Iraqis this is like when we beat the Russians in the 1980 Olympic hockey tournament.

Asked about the future of the team an Iraqi worker said, "this game, it's enough for them, that the {Iraqi} national team was in the Olympics. God willing they will still keep winning."