In summer 1996, Athens, Georgia, shone as the largest Olympic venue site outside Atlanta, as the state hosted the Centennial Olympic Games July 19 - August 4. Some 650,000 visitors bought tickets to events at three University of Georgia venues: soccer in Sanford Stadium, and volleyball and rhythmic gymnastics in Stegeman Coliseum. Competition here was highlighted August 1 by the first gold medal match in women's soccer, won by the United States team before a crowd of 76,481, to that date the largest ever to witness a women's sporting event. That week, Athens hosted eight soccer matches. Festive crowds filled the campus and downtown Athens daily. Earlier, UGA and Athens hosted Olympic teams from Australia and Sweden for training. On July 15, an estimated 50,000 people lined the streets and filled downtown as the Olympic Torch Relay traversed Clarke County. UGA alumnus and Olympics Chief Billy Payne carried the torch through Sanford Stadium and spoke to the huge crowd gathered in this plaza. Athens 96, a community coordinating group, organized hundreds of Athenians who volunteered many hours of service to make guests from around the world welcome in this Olympic Athens.