Former Trojan Ous Mellouli Wins Olympic Gold In 1500-Meter Freestyle
Aug. 16, 2008
Former USC NCAA Champion Ous Mellouli became the first man to defeat Grant Hackett in the 1500-meter freestyle in 11 years, wresting away the stranglehold the Aussie had on the race to win Tunisia's first ever swimming gold medal on the final day of swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics Sunday morning.
Following Mellouli's win, USC senior Rebecca Soni swam the breaststroke leg for the U.S. 4x100m medley relay, which won silver.
Mellouli, a four-time All-American in the mile - but never a title-winner -- in college, trailed the first the first two thirds of the race before taking over first after 1100 meters. Mellouli, coached in Beijing by USC head swimming coach Dave Salo, lengthened his lead to almost a second-and-a-half with only 100 meters to go.
Hackett cut more than half a second off the lead with 50 meters to go, but couldn't catch a sprinting Mellouli over the final 50 meters as the Tunisian won in 14:40.84, an African record which made him the second fastest man ever in the race. Hackett, the world record holder in the race, finished in 14:41.53.
Also swimming in the 1500m free was former Trojan Larsen Jensen, who won bronze in the 400m free earlier in the meet. The silver medalist in the 1500m free in 2004, he finished fifth in the mile in 14:48.16.
Mellouli's win in the mile continues a tradition of Olympic success USC has had in the event. Mike O'Brien won the race in 1984 for the U.S. while Trojan Australians John Konrads and Murray Rose won the race in 1960 and 1956, respectively. Rose won silver in the race in 1960, as did Jensen, of course in 2004. Buster Crabbe also won bronze in the race in 1928.