Host City: Sydney, Australia
Venue(s): Sydney International Aquatic Centre, Olympic Park, Sydney, New South Wales
Date Started: September 17, 2000
Date Finished: September 18, 2000
With world champion [Lea Loveless] missing out on a place on the US team, the eyes of the world focused on the 21-year-old Japanese swimmer [Mai Nakamura] as a possible Olympic champion. Nakamura had placed second behind Loveless at the 1998 worlds and arrived at Sydney as Pan-Pacific champion.
Another strong medal contender was [Nina Zhivanevskaya] who had won a hat-trick of European titles just a few months before the Olympics. Originally from Russia, she had been an Olympic medal winner as part of the Unified team but had married a Spaniard and gained Spanish citizenship in 1999.
Both women made the Olympic podium in Sydney but the top step was reserved for the 16-year-old [Diana Mocanu] of Romania. That Mocanu should do well at the Olympics was not a complete surprise but a victory was deemed to be unlikely. Nakamura took the first part of the race at breakneck speed and was well under world record splits at halfway. The Japanese swimmer still led with 25 metres to go but she began to pay for her fast start and, as she faded, Mocanu came through to record the first victory by a Romania swimmer in an Olympic final.