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Swimming at the 2000 Sydney Summer Games:

Men's 50 metres Freestyle

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Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 21, 2000
Date Finished: September 22, 2000

Gold: USA Gary Hall, Jr.
USA Anthony Ervin
Bronze: NED Pieter van den Hoogenband


A few months after he had successfully defended his Olympic 50 metres freestyle title in Atlanta [Aleksandr Popov] was stabbed in the stomach by a watermelon seller in Moscow. The knife barely missed his kidney and grazed his lung but he recovered and was runner-up behind American Bill Pillczuk at the 1998 World Championships. Pilczuk failed to make the US Olympic team but the Americans, in the shape of [Gary Hall, Jr.] and [Anthony Ervin], were still seen as Popov’s closest rivals. Popov broke [Tom Jager]’s longstanding world record in March 2000 then saw Hall also go under the old mark at the US trials.

Drawn in adjacent lanes in the Olympic final Popov and Hall both started well as did Hall’s American team mate [Anthony Ervin]. As Popov’s challenge faded the two Americans matched each other stroke by stroke as the wall approached. Incredibly the two men finished simultaneously in 21.98 seconds and shared the Olympic title.

In 2005 Ervin sold his gold medal for $17,000 to aid victims of the Asian tsunami. In 2012 he returned from retirement to claim a place on his second Olympic team – 12 years after his first.

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