- 17 Sep 2000
- Sydney 2000
Dolan bounces back in style to win 400m medley
At Atlanta 1996, Tom Dolan had won gold in a thrilling 400m individual medley final. Since then, his form had been almost faultless. During the three and a half years after those Games, he didn't lose a single race, until his compatriot Tom Wilkens got the better of him in March of 2000.
That defeat appeared to trigger a change of fortunes. At the American trials, he fell ill, and was forced to swim while running a temperature and taking antibiotics. Struggling and feeling weak, Dolan had to draw on all of his core strength to push his way to the front and qualify for Sydney. But it had been a close-run thing.
Once the Games got underway his run of bad luck continued. Dolan suffered from asthma and, on the day of the 400m individual medley final, he felt breathless and had to seek help from the medical centre at the athletes' village. He was linked up to an oxygen tent and spent more than an hour recovering before he felt sufficiently well to compete. Even as he arrived at the pool, he still did not feel completely right.
And yet... as soon as Dolan entered the pool, all of his troubles seem to fall by the wayside. He started strongly and then moved into the lead on the last length of the backstroke leg. From there on, there was no stopping him. He pulled inexorably away from the field. Soon the only question remaining unanswered was not whether he would win, but whether he would break his own world record.
He touched the wall in 4 minutes 11.76 seconds, smashing that record, with a huge winning margin of 2.47 seconds over team-mate Erik Vendt.
Dolan went on to take silver in the 200m individual medley, which would prove to be the final medal of his Olympic career.