The Roar
The Roar


9 days to Rio: Kieren Perkins' greatest gold medal

Kieren Perkins 1996 1500-metre win. Do you remember where you were? AAP Image/Paul Miller
27th July, 2016

The 1500 metre freestyle became Australia’s flagship event in the pool at the back end of the 20th century and the early 2000s.

Between Kieren Perkins and Grant Hackett, Australia was almost untouchable.


Perkins made his Olympic Games debut at Barcelona in the 1992 Olympics, winning gold at just 19-years of age.

He continued his winning ways at the 1994 World Championships in Rome and the 1994 Commonwealth Games, taking gold in both the 1500 and 400 metre freestyle, before lining up in Atlanta.

Perkins fell out of form by the time Atlanta rolled around and was up against fellow Australian Daniel Kowalski who was making his debut in the Games after some impressive form at the various championships between 1992 and 1996.

Perkins only just scraped through qualification for the final of the event and had to swim out of lane eight as a result.

In fact, he only made the final 0.24, narrowly beating Steffen Zesner from Germany. It was later revealed that Perkins was close to not swimming due to illness.

What followed in the finals though was a virtual return to the form that had won Perkins an Olympic gold medal, and various championships in between as he swum out of the ‘graveyard’ lane eight.


He would clock a time of 14:56.40, which was over six seconds ahead of Kowalski who finished second place in an incredible display.

Perkins kept fighting to the Sydney Olympics in 2000, hoping to do something similar but the true passing of the baton over to Grant Hackett finally occurred, as Perkins took silver behind Hackett.

Nonetheless, the 1996 triumph for Perkins will always be remembered as one of Australia’s best ever.

Be sure to follow The Roar as we look back on some of the most memorable moments in Olympic history – be they weird and wacky or brilliant and significant – and count down the days until the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.

50 days to go: Australia’s first Olympian, Edwin Flack
49 days to go: Brazil capitulate at the 2012 Olympics
48 days to go: Blood in the water during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics
47 days to go: Daniel Carroll, the man who won rugby gold with Australia and America
46 days to go: Margaret Abbott – the golfer who didn’t know she had won gold
45 days to go: Where did all the amateurs go?
44 days to go: Australia’s oarsome foursome
43 days to go: When Korea stood as one
42 Days to go: Oscar Swahn, the oldest Olympian
41 days to go: Edith Bosch – the Olympian not known for her medals
40 days to go: Jane Saville’s heartbreaking Sydney Olympics
39 days to go: Herb Elliot dominates in Rome 1960
38 days to go: Teofilo Stevenson, the boxer who might have beaten Ali
37 days to go: Betty Cuthbert steals the show in Melbourne
36 days to go: Jesse Owens’ heroic performance in Berlin
35 days to go: Eric the Eel steals Sydney’s heart
34 days to go: What happened to Cassius Clay’s gold medal?
33 days to go: Australia’s equestrian brilliance at Barcelona
32 days to go: The Olympic sports which are no longer with us
31 days to go: Debbie Flintoff-King wins on the line
30 days to go: The dominance of basketball’s Dream Team
29 days to go: Nadia Comenaci scores gymnastics’ first-ever perfect score
28 days to go: The man who stopped for a duck
27 days to go: The upset of the Sydney Olympics
26 days to go: Murray Rose’s scintilating Melbourne performance
25 days to go: Greg Louganis’ heroic comeback win
24 days to go: Fencing turns to duelling in Paris
23 days to go: Dawn Fraser’s flag-stealing shenanigans
22 days to go: The most prolific Olympic competitor
21 days to go: Duncan Armstrong’s underdog win in Seoul
20 days to go: Johnny Weissmuller: A brilliant swimmer and Hollywood actor
19 days to go: Majorie Jackson – the Lithgow Flash
18 days to go: Larisa Latynina, the most successful female Olympian
17 days to go: Dimitrios Loundras, the child who won an Olympic medal
16 days to go: Roy Jones Jr is robbed of an Olympic gold
15 days to go: Shane Gould’s superstar performance in Munich
14 days to go: The Kookaburras finally fly to the top of the world
13 days to go: Matthew Mitcham’s historic dive
12 days to go: Even Olympians are prone to the odd fail
11 days to go: Abebe Bikila wins the Olympic marathon running in bare feet
10 days to go: Track cycling’s greatest rivalry
9 days to go: Kieran Perkins’ gold medal from lane eight
8 days to go: Sally Pearson’s awesome run in London
7 days to go: Mark Spitz’ perfect seven gold medals in ’72
6 days to go: Usain Bolt torches the field in Beijing
5 days to go: Michael Klim and Ian Thorpe help smash America’s 4x100m world record like a guitar
4 days to go: Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ defiant black power salute
3 days to go: Michael Phelps – the best to ever grace the Olympics
2 days to go: Cathy Freeman delivers with the weight of a country on her back
1 day to go: Ian Thorpe – Australia’s finest Olympian