Host City: Athina, Greece
Venue(s): Olympic Aquatic Centre, Athens Olympic Sports Complex Spiros Loues, Athina
Date Started: August 19, 2004
Date Finished: August 20, 2004
|Bronze:|| Antje Buschschulte
The longer of the two backstroke events did not have a clear favourite in Athens. Russia's [Stanislava Komarova] was generally accepted to be the most talented in the race for gold but could be frustratingly inconsistent at the highest level. The 2003 World Champion and world leader for 2004 was [Katy Sexton] but the British team of which she was a part had endured a poor time at the Games.
Few would have considered Zimbabwe's [Kirsty Coventry] a medal favourite before the Games began but the American-based swimmer had already won a silver and a bronze and this event was potentially a stronger one for her. Coventry took the lead from the first few strokes and left Komarova trailing in her wake to claim Zimbabwe's first individual Olympic gold and the first by any African swimmer from outside South Africa. Komarova held on for silver with [Reiko Nakamura] of Japan and Germany's [Antje Buschschulte] finishing in a dead heat for third.
Coventry's win came at the time when racial tensions in Zimbabwe were at a peak and, for a short time at least, brought the troubled country some measure of joy.