Olympics, Swimming: Ous Mellouli Claims Olympic Gold for Tunisia in Men’s 1500 Free

By John Lohn

BEIJING, China, August 17. PRODUCING an intelligent race, Tunisia's Ous Mellouli denied Australia's Grant Hackett a third consecutive title in the 1500 freestyle, winning the metric mile in 14:40.84. Mellouli then took part in a unique celebration, hopping out of the pool and racing to the stands where family and friends waited with the Tunisian flag.

Hanging with the leaders through the first two-thirds of the race, Mellouli moved into the lead at the 1,100-meter mark and never looked back, event when Hackett made a final push on the last lap. It was retribution for Mellouli, who served a ban by FINA for using the banned stimulant Adderall to help with his college studies.

As a result of his ban, Mellouli had his gold medal in the 800 freestyle at last year's World Championships in Melbourne stricken from the record books. From here forward, though, his troubles are history and the University of Southern California product can call himself an Olympic champion.

Trying to become the first male swimmer to win an event in three straight Olympiads, Hackett collected the silver medal in 14:41.53. The greatest distance freestyler in history, Hackett was timed in 14:38.92, an Olympic record, during the preliminaries. Coming back a day and a half later, he couldn't match that time.

Canada's Ryan Cochrane, a rising star on the international scene, was the bronze medalist in 14:42.69, finishing ahead of Russia's Yury Prilukov (14:43.21). The silver medalist in Athens, American Larsen Jensen was fifth in 14:48.16 and Great Britain's David Davies, the bronze medalist four years ago, was sixth in 14:52.11.The Chinese duo of Zhang Lin (14:55.20) and Sun Yang (15:05.12) placed seventh and eighth.