Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 15, 2008
Date Finished: August 17, 2008
Australia's [Grant Hackett] arrived in Beijing with the aim of becoming the first man to win three successive Olympic titles in the same event. He had maintained an aura of invincibility in the event for the best part of a decade but his winning streak had been snapped at the 2007 World Championships and he had seriously considered switching to the open water event for his farewell Olympic appearance. Hackett re-established himself as favourite with his performance in the heats and qualified fastest with the second fastest time in history. The final soon developed into a duel between Hackett and Canada's [Ryan Cochrane] as the two traded the lead throughout the first two thirds of the race. In the final third of the race [Oussama Mellouli] of Tunisia, swimming in an outside lane, caught up with the leading pair and forged ahead to win an upset victory over the Australian with Cochrane holding on to claim the bronze.
Mellouli's path to the 2008 Games was not a smooth one. The Tunisian had won the 800 metre title at the 2007 World Championships only to lose it when it was revealed that he failed a doping test at the previous year's US Open meeting. The substance involved was revealed to be Adderall, an amphetamine used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. He claimed that he been given a pill by a fellow student at the University of Southern California in order to aid him in writing a term paper. The Tunisian authorities originally gave him merely a warning but FINA appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the punishment was upgraded to an 18-month ban. Luckily for Mellouli this gave him a small window of time to post a time good enough to qualify him for Olympic selection.