Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 22, 1996
Date Finished: July 22, 1996
The 100 metres backstroke final was memorable for being literally a battle between master and pupil. The two main protagonists were both American with 25-year-old schoolteacher [Whitney Hedgepeth] facing off against 15-year-old high school student [Beth Botsford] for the Olympic title.
Their paths to the medal podium were made considerably easier by the failure to qualify to the final of the two women who finished 1-2 at the last World Championships. [He Cihong] was another of the Chinese team to fail to live up to the reputation gained in their glory year of 1994 whilst [Nina Zhivanevskaya] of Russia finished just 0.04 outside the top eight who qualified.
Botsford was never headed in the final and while Hedgepath did close slowly in the latter stages she was nearly three tenths of a second clear at the end of the race. This victory earned her a place on the US medley relay team where she earned a second gold medal. Botsford won a Pan American Games silver medal over this distance in 1999 and a Universiade bronze over 50 metres in 2003 but this was her first and last Olympic Games.
Hungary's [Krisztina Egerszegi] chose not to swim in order to focus on other events. The time she set on the backstroke leg of the medley relay in Atlanta would have been enough to win gold in the 100 metres backstroke.