Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 25, 1996
Date Finished: July 25, 1996
The Olympic final shaped up to be a classic battle between the world champion and two home favourites.
The world champion was [Jani Sievinen] of Finland, who was on a run of 39 final victories in the event, while the world record holder at 400 metres, Americaâs [Tom Dolan], and his compatriot [Greg Burgess] were his chief rivals. Dolanâs stock rose when he won his favoured 400 IM just as Sievinenâs fell when he failed to reach the final.
Sievinen returned to form and was the fastest qualifier for the final ahead of Dutchman [Marcel Wouda] and Canadaâs [Curtis Myden]. Myden led the field for the first 50 metres but on the backstroke leg Attila Czene of Hungary, swimming over in lane one, forged ahead. The pack gained on him during the second half of the race and Sievinen was pressing him hard at the finish but Czene was able to hold off his pursuers and gain a surprising victory.
A month after the Games it was revealed how lucky Czene was to be competing in Atlanta. A few weeks prior to the Olympics he had still not recorded a qualifying time so the Hungarian Swimming Federation invented a non-existent meeting and submitted concocted times to the IOC to ensure he (and a dozen other swimmers) were eligible to compete in Atlanta. The Hungarian Swimming Federation were punished for their dishonesty although Czene was allowed to keep his Olympic title.