Biondi made an inauspicious start as a swimmer. In his first race, having taken up the sport aged five, he made two false starts and then lost his swimsuit on the dive. Far from daunted, he went on to become one of the all-time greats, winning 11 career Olympic medals.
In the 100m butterfly at the Seoul Olympic Games, Biondi was the favourite. However, he had to settle for second when he was beaten by just 0.01 seconds, by Anthony Nesty of Surinam. This led Biondi to reflect, "One one-hundredth of a second - what if I had grown my fingernails longer?"
Biondi successfully channelled his disappointment. He entered five more events, winning gold in all of them and setting world records in four. He took part in all three US relay victories and his total of seven swimming medals at a single Games has been beaten only by Michael Phelps.
What set Biondi apart from other swimmers was his competitive edge. The bigger the event, the better he swam, and his best was always reserved for Olympic finals. In the 50m freestyle in Seoul, he won by defeating teammate Tom Jager for the first time in two years.