Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 17, 2004
Date Finished: August 17, 2004
Four years earlier this event had seen one of the great races of Olympic swimming history when Ian Thorpe had led the Australians to a sensational last gasp victory over perennial Olympic champions, the United States. Since Sydney the Australians had established themselves as the best team in the world and had won both world titles in the intervening period. The USA had slowly begun to regroup and a gap of 9 seconds between the Australians and Americans in 2001 had shrunk to just over a second at the 2003 World Championships. The emergence of Michael Phelps as a fully-fledged superstar began to tip the balance back in the Americans’ favour as was shown by Phelps pulling out a lead of over a second during the opening leg of the Olympic final. Peter Vanderkaay on the third leg for America pushed the US lead out a little further which turned the race into a virtual carbon copy of the race in Sydney. Once again Ian Thorpe tried to systematically break down the gap on the American anchor but this time, try as he might, it was not enough to haul back Klete Keller and the US held onto a lead of just thirteen hundredths of a second at the end.