Host City: Atlanta, United States
Venue(s): Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Date Started: July 21, 1996
Date Finished: July 21, 1996
|Silver:||Franziska van Almsick|
[Franziska van Almsick], one of the last products of the East German sports system, had won four Olympic medals as a 14-year-old at Barcelona in 1992. By 1996 she was a genuine superstar in her native Germany and was reigning World Champion in this event â her win at the 1994 World Championship was a rare victory for the rest of the world in a championship of Chinese dominance.
This made van Almsick a clear favourite to win the event though some doubts, specifically about her sometimes erratic performances in heat swims, still remained. The German swimmer actually produced one of her best qualifying swims in Atlanta and was the fastest of the eight qualifiers.
The second fastest qualifier was [Claudia Poll] of Costa Rica, who was the current short course world champion at the distance. To everyoneâs surprise Poll took the lead from the German at 75 metres and was never headed as she sped away to take her countryâs first ever Olympic gold.
This completed a unique double for the Poll family as her sister Sylvia had won Costa Ricaâs only other Olympic medal eight years earlier. After the race Van Almsick commented âI think I was
overwhelmed by the atmosphere. There were so many people there, all yelling - I'm not used to that."
Poll got into trouble with the Olympic authorities for wearing sponsors logos on her swimming cap and teeshirt. She was given a warning by the IOC for breaching the Olympic Charter. She returned to win more medals in 2000 and, after serving a drug suspension, also competed in 2004