Deburghgraeve bounces back to win breaststroke gold
Deburghgraeve returned home disenchanted and decided to give up on swimming, taking up a job in a brewery. However, after a few months, the lure to return to the pool became too strong, and he was soon setting his sights on redemption in Atlanta.
Belgium had only ever produced one medallist in the Olympic pool, a bronze secured by Ingrid Lempereur at Los Angeles 1984.
In Deburghgraeve the country now had a swimmer who was clearly capable of emulating and bettering that achievement. After bouncing back from his disappointment in Barcelona he claimed a bronze at the 1994 World Championships in Rome and then took the European title in 1995.
He got off to a blistering start in Atlanta. His qualifying swim in the 100m breaststroke set a new world record. He maintained this form all the way to the final, where he launched himself into an early lead.Getty
However, after the turn the USA’s Jeremy Linn pulled level and remained with the Belgian into the close. Both men lunged for the wall, but Deburghgraeve’s final surge enabled him to finish 0.12 seconds ahead of his rival.
Deburghgraeve retired after failing to earn a place in the Belgian team for the 2000 Games in Sydney. Instead, he became a shoe salesman. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2008.