Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 14, 2004
Date Finished: August 15, 2004
In 2013 Japan's [Kosuke Kitajima] emerged as the world's premier breaststroke swimmer when he set a brace of world records in winning both breaststroke golds at the World Championship in Barcelona. He would have been an overwhelming favourite to repeat this feat in Athens had it not been for the performance of [Brendan Hansen] at the US Olympic trials. Suddenly Kitajima found himself not only now just a former world record holder but not even favourite for the titles.
The two men traded Olympic records through the heats and semi-finals in preparation for their eventual showdown as the rest of the competitors were outclassed by the duo.
The final lived up to expectations as the Japanese swimmer made a superior start before being pegged back and then overtaken by his American rival. Hansen had a small lead at the 50 m mark but Kitajima was not to be denied and soon moved passed Hansen and into what was to be a winning lead. After the race American Olympic backstroke champion [Aaron Peirsol] accused Kitajima of using an illegal dolphin kick at the start of the race, a charge the Japanese team vehemently denied.
In 2008 Kitajima became the first man in Olympic history to successfully defend his title in this event.