Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 19, 2000
Date Finished: September 20, 2000
To Australians [Susie O’Neill] was “Madame Butterfly”, the outstanding butterfly swimmer in the world over the years between Atlanta and Sydney and one of her nation’s most popular sports personalities. She was an odds-on favourite to win the Olympic title in front of her crowd and, if that wasn’t enough to satisfy Australian hopes, her closest rival appeared to be team-mate [Petria Thomas]. To add to the excitement the world record holder had already won gold in her “bonus event”, the 200 metre freestyle.
But the script did not go to plan. America’s [Misty Hyman] took the lead from the gun, held onto the lead, and despite intense pressure from O’Neill and Thomas over the last length, came home to produce one of the most shocking upsets in swimming history. O’Neill had been beaten in the event for the first time in six years in front of her own fans in an Olympic final. Hyman’s immediate response was simply to shout “Oh my God!” a dozen times whilst punching the air.