ATHENS, Greece. August 14. IAN Thorpe of Australia repeated as winner of the Olympic 400 freestyle by .25 seconds over teammate Grant Hackett, 3:43.10 to 3:43.25. Klete Keller of the U.S. also repeated his Sydney medal with a bronze American record swim at 3:44.11.
The Thorpedo struck gold after months of public controversy and pressure that started when he was disqualified at the Aussie Trials but got into the event when teammate Craig Stevens withdrew to allow him the spot.
Further pressure followed after various comments Thorpe made to the press, including some that touched on the subject of the use of performance- enhancing drugs in sport. But he has the gold again.
Thorpe emoted to the press afterward. “I didn’t realize how much this event meant to me,” he said. He fought back tears after touching the wall. “I am more excited now that it is off my shoulders.”
The race was much closer this time — in Sydney Thorpe finished nearly 7 seconds ahead of Keller's 3:47.00 American record. But with Thorpe about three seconds slower and Keller about three seconds faster, the 400 free will certainly be much more intriguing in the future. America's Larsen Jensen swam a personal best 3:46.08 for fourth.