Host City: Beijing, China
Venue(s): Beijing National Aquatics Centre, Beijing Olympic Green, Beijing
Date Started: August 10, 2008
Date Finished: August 12, 2008
American [Natalie Coughlin] had been the outstanding 100 metre backstroker since 2001 and arrived in Beijing as Olympic champion, world champion, world record holder and a firm favourite to retain her Olympic title. It was a minor surprise when [Kirsty Coventry] of Zimbabwe qualified fastest from the heats and when she followed this by lowering Coughlin's world record in the semi-final it looked like an upset may be in the making. Coughlin gambled everything in the final by blasting through the first 50 metres and was just able off the fast finishing Zimbabwean to retain her grip on the Olympic title. [Margaret Hoelzer] of the USA, who finished 5th in 2004, took the bronze medal.