Kieren Fans out in force for The KingThe crowd's reception at the medal ceremony and subsequent victory lap was as much for Perkins as it was for Hackett - not only to congratulate him on his silver medal and awesome career, but to thank him for what he has done for Australian swimming. Perkins is widely credited as THE cause of the recent resurgence of Australia to a world swimming power. He showed Australian swimmers that they could mix it with the best, he was the one that made swimming the 'must watch' event for all Australians that it has now become a major sport with massive audiences and legions of fans. And he was the one who kept Australian swimming afloat until his legacy had begun. He has become an Australian icon and will go down in history as one of Australia's greatest ever sportspeople - a huge statement in the sports-mad nation.

Kieren waves to the crowd on the medallist's victory lapPerkins made Olympic history in many ways that night. Of course, he was the first person to win 3 medals in the 1500m event, of any colours. But more impressively he tied as the most dominant man ever in an Olympic swimming event winning 2 gold in it at the first 2 Olympics and a silver at the 3rd. The only other people to achieve the feat were Duke Kahanamoku in 1924 and Alex Popov in 2000, both in the 100m freestyle event. However of these 3, Perkins was the only one to go out still holding the world and Olympic records in that event. (He also left holding the Commonwealth and Australian records for 1500m freestyle, and the Olympic, World, Commonwealth and Australian records for 800m both longcourse and shortcourse.) Combined with his amazing array of non-Olympic feats, Perkins had even further sealed himself as without doubt the greatest distance swimmer, Australia's greatest ever male swimmer, and one of the greatest swimmers of all time.

At his post-race interview Kieren thanked his coach, family, fans and everyone else who's helped him during his career.

After the race Kieren said "Right now I am totally exhausted. I can hardly think straight. This was the best result I could have got on the day, there's no doubt at that. I'd like to think that everybody knows and remembers that I've always given it my best shot."

"It was still the perfect result, because Australia won. It didn't matter who hit the wall first so long as it was Australia 1-2."

"The crowd here, this whole week has been fantastic, spectacular. Australia is a sport loving nation and they love and understand their swimming and I'm just really glad and proud that this afternoon I could be part of what I'd like to think was our best night at the pool."

 Kieren was unsure of what he'd do in future, which he described as a "great leap into the unknown." "I'm hoping to find something I love as much as swimming," he said.

Kieren on the podiumHe had a wide range of emotions about his retirement.

"There's relief that it's all over, pride, a little frustration, all those things. But mostly there's a lot of sadness."

"I've had a charmed life thus far."

As the victory lap finished and Kieren was about to go out the door he turned and smiled, waving and taking one last look at the crowd as he left the pooldeck for the last time.

But the crowd would get a chance to cheer their King one more time.

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

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