Atlanta 1996: Kieren Perkins – Swimming
As conveyed in this clip from Seven Nightly News, several factors added to the significance of Kieren Perkins’ gold medal win in the 1500m freestyle in Atlanta, 1996.
Coming into the games with a serious diaphragm problem, Kieren was the slowest qualifier in the final and was relegated to lane 8 – which at that time was seen as a disadvantage for swimmers, because of the waves generated by the inside lanes and for the difficulty of seeing other competitors.
Adding to the pressure, Perkins had won gold in the same event four years earlier in Barcelona – and was thus defending his title.
Perkins began the race superbly, achieving a stroke and rhythm that had been absent from his lead-up training. Churning through the water, he led the entire race – finishing many body lengths ahead of the rest of the pack, and in just under 15 minutes. Fellow Aussie Daniel Kowalski got the silver.
This segment provides a brilliant overview of Kieren before, during and after the famous event. The tightly constructed editing, interspersed with reactions from Kieren, his parents (at their home in Brisbane) and other competitors such as Kowalski, gives a complete picture of the moment in time.
The beginning of the segment also mentions the great Susie O’Neil, who on the same day won Olympic gold in the 200m Butterfly event, defeating Ireland triple winner Michelle Smith (who was later found guilty of drug offences).
Excerpt from Seven Nightly News Sydney, 27 July 1996.