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De la porte shares Olympics memories
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Brian de la Porte devised a plan prior to flying to Sydney, Australia to watch the 2000 Olympics. The 1999 Ceres High graduate purchased a U.S. flag for $12 from Wal Mart in Ceres.

"I had the idea in the back of my mind that I would give my flag to an American for a victory lap," he said. "I didn't know if it would be Maurice Greene, Marion Jones or Michael Johnson."

Greene gave de la Porte one of his Nike shoes in exchange for his flag after winning gold in the men's 100-meter final in a world-record time of 9.79 seconds.

"As soon as that race started, I ran down there by the track," Brian said. "I knew he was going to win."

De la Porte stored the red-white-and-blue shoe in a deposit box at a bank for several months. The shoe is currently sitting in a display case in his bedroom next to a photograph.

"There's a picture of me and Maurice holding it together," he said.

De la Porte could have sold the shoe, which had an estimated value between $150,000 to $200,000.

"That wasn't my intention," he said. "I don't think he gave it to someone to sell or make money. I definitely could have but I didn't."

De la Porte said he would be willing to put the shoe, which now has an estimated value between $5,000 to $25,000, on display.

"I'll probably have it for a long, long time," he said. "Maybe one day, I might just loan it to a track and field museum or Nike museum. That's probably about the only thing I would do with it.

"It's part of history."

Last year, De la Porte chatted with Greene for about 20 minutes at the Modesto Relays at Modesto Junior College.

"I walked up by him and pulled out the shoe," de la Porte said. "He was shocked."

De la Porte enjoyed his 15 minutes of fame.

He was mobbed by hundreds of fans at Olympic Stadium.

"That was the most crazy experience ever," de la Porte said.

"In a half hour, I posed for 200 pictures. It was like being a rock star."

De la Porte also appeared on several television and radio stations.

In Australia, he was interviewed by Matt Lauer and Katie Couric of the Today Show, right outside the stadium.

Greene made a special visit and autographed the shoe.

"He won the race on Saturday," de la Porte said. "That Monday night, I met him for the first time there."

For the past month, NBC has been running a commercial for the 2004 Summer Olympics. The highlight from the 2000 Olympics features Greene draped in Brian's flag.

"They show him for two or three seconds with my flag," de la Porte said. "That has been so cool to see." - By DALE BUTLER / Staff Reporter of The Ceres (Calif.) Courier