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Swimming at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games:

Men's 200 metres Backstroke

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Events:

Host City: Los Angeles, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Swim Stadium, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California
Date Started: July 31, 1984
Date Finished: July 31, 1984

Gold: USA Rick Carey
Silver: FRA Frédéric Delcourt
Bronze: CAN Cam Henning

Summary

In 1982 [Rick Carey] had won the World Championships in this event and in 1983, he bettered [John Naber]'s vaunted world record from the Montréal Olympics. He improved that at the 1984 US Olympic Trials with 1:58.86 and was the clear favorite for gold in the 200 back. In the heats he bettered Naber's Olympic record, finishing in 1:58.99 and hoped to improve in the final and set another world record. He won quite easily, finishing 1½ seconds ahead of France's [Frédéric Delcourt], but his time was disappointing to him – 2:00.23. Rather than celebrate he pouted on the medal podium, did not smile, and acted like a spoiled child. Not acknowledging them, the pro-American crowd responded with a chorus of boos, and the press went after him. In his post-race interview, he said, "I would have won no matter what. I didn't feel good but no one can beat me. That's not vanity or cockiness. I had control of the race al all times, feeling as bad as I did."

Carey was so harshly criticized that he had to offer a formal apology. A few days later he came back to win the 100 backstroke and this time smiled, and let everyone know he was happy. He would also win a third gold medal in Los Angeles in the medley relay. A few weeks after the Olympics, [Sergey Zabolotnov] of the Soviet Union broke Carey's world record at the Friendship Games.

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