Coughlin Golden in the 100 Backstroke in Beijing
Aug. 11, 2008
Beijing, China - California women's swimming legend Natalie Coughlin added Olympic medal No. 7 to her all-time count after capturing gold in the 100m backstroke with a time of 58.96 Monday night at the National Aquatics Center in Beijing.
Despite having her backstroke world record (which she set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha in July at 58.97) broken in the semifinal round by Zimbabwe's Kirsty Coventry (58.77) earlier in the day, Coughlin became the first woman to repeat as the 100m backstroke champion since its inception to the Summer Games in 1924. Additionally, this is the tenth time that a woman from United States has captured gold in the 100 back.
This was Coughlin's second medal of the 2008 Games (also won silver in the 4x100m free relay on Saturday) as she hopes to advance to the finals of the 200 IM later this evening. Coughlin posted a prelim time of 2:11.63 earlier in the morning.
Arguably the greatest female swimmer in Cal history, Coughlin won 12 NCAA titles with the Golden Bears (the second-most career titles for a women's swimmer in NCAA history). She was a three-time NCAA and Pac-10 Swimmer of the Year. Her success only grew more after her collegiate tenure. At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Coughlin became the third American woman to win five medals at one Olympics (the others are gymnasts Mary Lou Retton and Shannon Miller). She took gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 800-freestyle relay, breaking the world record in that event. Coughlin also won silver medals in the 400-free relay and the 400-medley relay, and a bronze in the 100 free. At the 2008 Olympic Trials, Coughlin lowered her then world record in the 100 back to 58.97. In addition, she finished second in both the 100 free (53.83) and 200 individual medley (2:10.32).