News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay

Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Pool side stories: Gold glitter lost at the Games

Pool side stories: Gold glitter lost at the Games

Last updated on: July 25, 2012 09:09 IST

Image: Franziska Van Almsick of Germany attends a training session prior to the Athens 2004 Summer Olympic Games
Photographs: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images
Bikash Mohapatra presents five champions swimmers who won medals galore at international competitions, but missed out on an Olympic gold.

We might be light years away from contemplating an Indian swimmer winning a medal at the Olympics, but swimming -- along with athletics and gymnastics -- happens to be the sport that offers the most medals at the quadrennial extravaganza.

London will be no different, with a total of 34 gold medals available in the pool.

While history has it that most favourites justified expectations and proceeded to win gold medals, there were a few who missed the bus.

These swimmers, their plethora of medals in other major international competitions notwithstanding, missed out on the medal that matters the most in the sport - an Olympic gold! takes a look at a few of them.

Franziska van Almsick (Germany)

She won her first Olympic medals at the age of 14 - two silvers and two bronze medals coming her way at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

The fact that Franziska van Almsick followed it up with a clutch of gold medals at the World and European championships ensured she was a firm favourite to win an Olympic gold thereafter.

However, the German never met the expectations.

While at Atlanta (1996) she could win two silver medals -- 200 meters and 4 x 200 meters freestyle relay -- and a bronze in the 4 x 100 meters relay, at the Athens Games in 2000, she managed only a couple of bronze medals.

Van Almsick won 10 Olympic medals. However, none of them was gold.

Wouda could only manage a relay bronze

Image: Marcel Wouda of the Netherlands wins gold in the 200m Individual Medley at the European Short Course Championships in Rostock, Germany
Photographs: Craig Prentis /Allsport
Marcel Wouda (The Netherlands)

Marcel Wouda had the distinction of being the first World champion from The Netherlands, when he won the 200 meters individual medley at the FINA World Aquatics Championships in Perth in 1998.

A year later he was part of the Dutch team that won gold in the 4 x 200 meters freestyle at the World Short Course Championships in Hong Kong. Multiple gold medals at the European Championships - both long and short course - followed.

However, when it came to the biggest stage of them all, the Olympics, all Wouda could show for his efforts was a freestyle relay bronze (won in Sydney).

The Dutchman failed miserably in the Barcelona Games in 1992 and his best at the Atlanta Games four years on was a fourth place finish at the 200 meters individual medley.

None of the Swede's 37 golds came at the Olympics

Image: Therese Alshammar of Sweden celebrates winning the gold medal in the Women's 50m Freestyle Final during Day Sixteen of the 14th FINA World Championships at the Oriental Sports Center in Shanghai
Photographs: Adam Pretty/Getty Images
Therese Alshammar (Sweden)

Therese Alshammar is one of the most consistent swimmers of all times.

A haul of 43 European Championships and 25 World Championships medals, including 37 golds, justifies her credentials as one of the best in business.

However, when it comes to the Olympics the Swede's tally is a measly three.

Alshammar didn't progress beyond the semi-finals at the Atlanta Games in 1996 and four years later, in Sydney, she picked up silver medals in both the 50 m and 100 m freestyle, finishing second best to Dutchwoman Inge de Bruijn each time. Besides, she won a bronze with the Swedish relay team.

The 2004 Games in Athens witnessed the Swede failing yet again.

Four Olympics and only one silver medal for Sievinen

Image: Jani Sievinen of Finland in action in the Men's 200m Individual Medley Heats at the Sydney International Aquatic Centre on Day Five of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
Photographs: Al Bello /Allsport
Jani Sievinen (Finland)

We'll end with two Finnish swimmers.

Finland isn't exactly a country known for producing top swimmers -- as it does when it comes to athletics or motor sports -- but these two were exceptions to the rule.

Jani Sievinen first came into prominence by winning the 50 meters backstroke event at the European Short Course Championships in Gelsenkirchen (Germany) in 1991. However, it was in the medley events that he excelled in.

A haul of 17 golds, and several other medals, followed the triumph in Germany, most notably the 200 meters individual medley at the World Aquatics Championships in Rome in 1994.

He was a favourite for the event ahead of the Atlanta Olympics two years later. However, Hungary's Attila Czene pipped him to the gold.

Sievinen took part in four successive Olympics and had only the silver won above to show for his efforts.

Kasvio used his failure in Barcelona as an example

Image: Antti Kasvio of Finland during the European Championships in Vienna
Photographs: Shaun Botterill/ALLSPORT
Antti Kasvio (Finland)

Like his compatriot Jani Sievinen, Antti Kasvio too won only one medal at the Olympics, a bronze at the 200 meters freestyle event at the Barcelona Games in 1992.

The Finn finished third behind Yevgeny Sadovyi of the Unified Team and Anders Holmertz of Sweden in the event.

However, to his credit, Kasvio used his failure at the Catalan capital as the stepping stone for future success.

He won the 200 meters freestyle at the 1993 European Championships (long course) in Sheffield and in the World Championships (short course) in Palma de Mallorca.

And in 1994, Kasvio won the gold medal in the event at the World Aquatics Championship in Rome.