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Swimming at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's 100 metres Backstroke

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Swimming and Diving Stadium, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 4, 1956
Date Finished: December 6, 1956

Gold: AUS David Theile
Silver: AUS John Monckton
Bronze: USA Frank McKinney
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Summary

Australia was completely dominant in the freestyle events at the Melbourne Olympic Games but generally struggled to make an impression at the other strokes. The one exception to this rule came in this event. With European champion Gilbert Bozon failing to reach the final, an opportunity opened for the host nation pairing of David Theile and John Monckton to dominate the proceedings.

Although it was Monckton who set the best times in the preliminaries, the 18-year-old Theile was the swimmer who grabbed the opportunity to make his mark in the final. Theile had a unique turn which seemed to help him gain time on his opponents but was of contested legality. He had been given an unofficial warning by the judges for using this turn in the heats and had decided to use a more orthodox method for the semi-final. In the final he reverted to his original technique and used it to good effect as he finished exactly a second ahead of Monckton to claim the Olympic title.

The time was later recognised as a world record when times set in a 25 m pool were deemed not eligible for record purposes.

Theile successfully defended his Olympic title in 1960 before going on to a long and successful career as a surgeon.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal
1 David Theile 18 Australia AUS Gold WR
2 John Monckton 18 Australia AUS Silver
3 Frank McKinney 18 United States USA Bronze
4 Robert Christophe 18 France FRA
5 John Hayres Australia AUS
6 Graham Sykes 19 Great Britain GBR
7 Albert Wiggins 21 United States USA
8 Yoshi Oyakawa 23 United States USA
5 h1 r2/3 Kazuo Tomita 17 Japan JPN
5 h2 r2/3 Gilbert Bozon 21 France FRA
6 h1 r2/3 Dieter Pfeifer 19 Germany GER
6 h2 r2/3 Keiji Hase 31 Japan JPN
7 h1 r2/3 László Magyar 20 Hungary HUN
7 h2 r2/3 Ekkehard Miersch 20 Germany GER
8 h1 r2/3 Ladislav Bačík 23 Czechoslovakia TCH
8 h2 r2/3 Haydn Rigby 19 Great Britain GBR
4 h3 r1/3 John Brockway 28 Great Britain GBR
5 h2 r1/3 Lincoln Hurring 25 New Zealand NZL
5 h3 r1/3 João Gonçalves Filho 21 Brazil BRA
5 h4 r1/3 Gérard Coignot France FRA
6 h1 r1/3 Ahmed Nazir Pakistan PAK
6 h2 r1/3 Pedro Cayco Philippines PHI
6 h3 r1/3 Cheung Kin Man 24 Hong Kong HKG
6 h4 r1/3 Hideo Ninomiya 18 Japan JPN
7 h4 r1/3 Lim Heng Chek Malaya MAL