Breathing deepAbout to get on the blocks

Nearing the end of the race

"This is my last swim,"said Kieren before the final. "I'm just going to enjoy it."

He had achieved every title, award, and record possible in his sport - most many times over. Unlike Atlanta, where Perkins put huge pressure on himself to show Barcelona was not a fluke, he had nothing to prove.

Kieren savoured the crowd's raucous reception when he was announced, smiling and waving at them. Nobody had ever won 3 consecutive medals in the 1500m, of any colours, but Perkins was about to.

Naturally the fast heat swim had taken its toll and though Perkins stayed close to Hackett for the duration of the race he was unable to overtake him. But in an impressive swim - especially for someone who 6 months ago most felt had no chance of even making the Olympic team - Kieren won the Silver in 14:53.59, his fastest time since 1994 and well ahead of bronze medallist Chris Thompson. Hackett was 6 seconds outside Kieren's Olympic record and more than 8 seconds outside Kieren's world record.

Even if it was a silver medal, Kieren had made Olympic history, becoming the most dominant male swimmer in an Olympic event.

Kieren was an exemplary silver medallist. He was momentarily disappointed but went over and congratulated Hackett as if he'd always wanted him to win. "You deserve this," he told him.

Kieren got out of the pool and was back to his old self again, ever perky, he displayed his famous grin, and sprang in front of the crowd, arms outstretched, jokingly leaping with joy as if he had just won 50 Olympic golds.

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BIOGRAPHY (first page) - 1996 OLYMPICS - 1992 OLYMPICS - CAREER STATS

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