On this day: U.S. captures first gold | 1996 Atlanta Olympics

American swimmer Tom Dolan celebrates his gold medal win in the 400m medley, Sunday night, July 21, 1996, at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta,. (David Tulis/AJC)
Caption
American swimmer Tom Dolan celebrates his gold medal win in the 400m medley, Sunday night, July 21, 1996, at the Georgia Tech Aquatics Center during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta,. (David Tulis/AJC)

Credit: AJC

Editor’s Note: This story was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, July 22, 1996, as swim competitions gear up. This is a daily take of the events that transpired on the 25th anniversary of the Games in Atlanta.

Tom Dolan, the swimmer most likely to dazzle this week, gave the U.S. its first gold medal of the Atlanta Games when he out-touched his University of Michigan teammate in the 400-meter individual medley before a sellout crowd at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center Sunday night.

Dolan, the world record-holder and defending world champion in the event, had expressed disappointment earlier in the day with his preliminary swim, but he was strong Sunday night, finishing in 4 minutes 14.90 seconds and holding off a strong challenge from Eric Namesnik, who won the silver with a time of 4:15.25.

Curtis Myden of Canada took the bronze.

Namesnik took the lead from Dolan briefly during the backstroke portion of the medley, but Dolan stayed with him through the breaststroke and eventually edged ahead during the final stroke, the freestyle.

Jani Sievinen of Finland, who had been considered Dolan’s prime challenger for the gold struggled home ninth in the morning heats, missing the finals by nearly 3 seconds. Sievinen said he would rest up to battle Dolan in the 200-meter individual medley Thursday.

Midway through the men's 400m heat 4, USA's Tom Dolan (top) catches Canada's Curtis Myden (bottom) at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Sunday, July 21, 1996 during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Dolan finished 2nd in the heat. (E. A. Kennedy III/AJC)
Caption
Midway through the men's 400m heat 4, USA's Tom Dolan (top) catches Canada's Curtis Myden (bottom) at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center, Sunday, July 21, 1996 during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Dolan finished 2nd in the heat. (E. A. Kennedy III/AJC)

Credit: E.A. KENNEDY, III

Credit: E.A. KENNEDY, III

“I’m disappointed,” Dolan said after the preliminary times were posted. “I’d like to have the fastest people around me.”

That philosophy is in keeping with a statement he made coming into the Olympics. “No matter what meet you go to, the Olympics, the world championships, people love beating Americans,” Dolan said. “I love for people to try to beat me. When I beat them, it makes it that much sweeter. When you win at the Olympics, there can be no excuses that the best people weren’t here.”

Dolan, who suffers from exercise-induced asthma, said that his breathing wasn’t very good in the morning. “It’s generally better at night,” he said.

Day 2: First medals of Games | Day 4: Russian gymnasts continue dominance

ExploreAJC coverage of the Atlanta Olympics 25th anniversay