Danyon Loader wins 200m Gold, Atlanta 1996

Loader motivated himself during the Atlanta Olympics by assuming the underdog status. “I was this wee fellow from Dunedin in New Zealand,” he said. “There hadn’t been a lot of kudos for New Zealand swimmers, and I had a ‘don’t count me out’ attitude throughout the event. I used that to keep myself going.”

In the 200m Freestyle final the important players were expected to be Brazilian Gustavo Borges, Australian Daniel Kowalski, emerging Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and experienced Swede Anders Holmertz.

Loader tended to begin and end the 200m quickly, so he concentrated on getting more speed out of the third 50m leg, when swimmers are gathering themselves and waiting for the charge home. He did this so well that he overtook the leader, Holmertz, just before the final turn and charged home well clear, winning in 1min 47.63s, nearly half a second ahead of Borges.

He felt with 25 metres remaining the gold was his for the taking: “There’s a lightbulb-going-off sort of realisation, but then you know you’ve got to knuckle down and finish the job.”

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