Kieren Perkins was one of the world's best-ever long-distance swimmers, winning
two Olympic gold medals in 1992 and 1996 in the 1500m freestyle, and a silver
medal in 2000.
Kieren began swimming regularly at age eight as part of his
rehabilitation from a serious leg injury (after running through a plate glass
window). At age 13 his potential became obvious, and with coach John Carew
guiding him he won his first national title in 1989 and a Commonwealth title by
1990. By 1992 he dominated the 1500m event, demolishing a long-standing world
record. He dominated the event at the Barcelona Olympic games, lowering the
record to 14 minutes, 43 seconds - a massive improvement.
At the time of the 1996 Olympics, Perkins was out of form and long-time
Australian rival Daniel Kowalski
was regarded as the favourite. Barely qualifying for the final, it was later
revealed that Perkins felt unwell and considered not swimming. From lane eight,
Perkins dominated the race, again relegating Kowalski to his perennial
After his Atlanta triumph, some commentators were surprised when Perkins
decided to continue competing, particularly as the rise of
Grant Hackett, yet another
Australian distance swimmer, made it seem unlikely that Perkins could win again.
However, the lure of a home Olympics was too much for Perkins. Hackett completed
his rise to the top by beating Perkins, who took the silver medal in a
respectable time under 15 minutes.
Perkins has always presented a clean-cut, well-spoken image to the public,
similar in many ways to Ian Thorpe.
Since his retirement, he has occasionally worked in the broadcast media.