Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 20, 1996
Date Finished: July 20, 1996
For the first century of the Games Belgian swimmers had been the epitome of bit part players of the Olympic stage. Only a single bronze medal won by Ingrid Lempereur at the boycott hit 1984 Olympic Games had spoiled the nation’s run of failure.
At the Atlanta Games this changed in the first men’s final of the meet. Fred Deburghgraeve had made little impact on his Olympic début in 1992 but had made continuous progress ever since. A bronze medal at the 1994 World Championships had been followed in 1995 by a victory at the European Championships. Deburghgraeve’s heat swim was a statement of intent as he took a third of a second off Károly Güttler and was nearly a second faster than any of his rivals. World champion Norbert Rózsa failed to qualify for the final after placing only 17th in the heats.
Deburghgraeve’s approach to the final was simple – blast away from the gun and hope to hang on until the finish. The first part of the race went to plan but, as the wall approached, American Jeremy Linn moved through to challenge. A last lunge did the trick for the Belgian who became his nation’s first Olympic swimming champion.
|2||Jeremy Linn||21||United States||USA||Silver|
|6||Kurt Grote||22||United States||USA|
|10||Daniel Málek||23||Czech Republic||CZE|
|11||Richard Maden||23||Great Britain||GBR|
|14||Paul Kent||24||New Zealand||NZL|
|AC r2/2||Roman Ivanovsky||19||Russia||RUS||DQ|
|21||Todd Torres||28||Puerto Rico||PUR|
|24||Jo Gwang-Je||16||South Korea||KOR|
|33||Huang Chih-Yung||28||Chinese Taipei||TPE|
|34||Juan José Madrigal||22||Costa Rica||CRC|
|37||Francisco Suriano||17||El Salvador||ESA|