Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 20, 1996
Date Finished: July 20, 1996
For the first century of the Games Belgian swimmers had been the epitome of bit part players of the Olympic stage. Only a single bronze medal won by [Ingrid Lempereur] at the boycott hit 1984 Olympic Games had spoiled the nationâs run of failure.
At the Atlanta Games this changed in the first menâs final of the meet. [Fred Deburghgraeve] had made little impact on his Olympic dÃ©but in 1992 but had made continuous progress ever since. A bronze medal at the 1994 World Championships had been followed in 1995 by a victory at the European Championships. Deburghgraeveâs heat swim was a statement of intent as he took a third of a second off [KÃ¡roly GÃ¼ttler] and was nearly a second faster than any of his rivals. World champion [Norbert RÃ³zsa] failed to qualify for the final after placing only 17th in the heats.
Deburghgraeveâs approach to the final was simple â blast away from the gun and hope to hang on until the finish. The first part of the race went to plan but, as the wall approached, American [Jeremy Linn] moved through to challenge. A last lunge did the trick for the Belgian who became his nationâs first Olympic swimming champion.