Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 14, 2004
Date Finished: August 15, 2004
|Bronze:||Inge de Bruijn|
After the retirement of fellow Australian [Susie O'Neill] following the Sydney Olympics [Petria Thomas] emerged as the leading female butterfly swimmer in the world in 2001 and 2002. One major problem with Thomas had always been susceptibility to injury and in 2002 her career was put into doubt after reconstructive shoulder surgery. In the absence of Thomas, and world record holder [Inge de Bruijn], who chose to bypass the event, the veteran American [Jenny Thompson] became World Champion in 2003.
Thomas returned in 2004 and was the only woman to break 58 seconds prior to the Olympic Games but still many held de Bruijn to be favourite to retain her Olympic title. The two women were drawn together in both heat and semi-final with the pair swapping decisive victories across the two swims.
It was no surprise that de Bruijn took an early lead in the final and at 50 metres she was ahead of her own world record split. But for once this proved to be a tactical error for the Dutchwoman and she dropped back to third behind the victorious Thomas and Poland's 200 m World Champion [Otylia JÄdrzejczak].
Thomas was given the honour of carrying the Australian flag at the closing ceremony, after which she announced her retirement from competitive swimming.