VAN DEN HOOGENBAND Peter (1978) Holland / Swimming
According to the experts, during the Sydney games, the only swimmer worth looking out for would be Australia's Ian Thorpe. Thorpe indeed shone, picking up 3 gold medals and one silver. But nobody granted much importance to the Dutchman Peter Van Den Hoogenband, and how wrong they were.Already with the scalp of Alexandre Popov, the best swimmer of his generation, under his belt at the most recent European championships, the Dutchman made it his duty to repeat this exploit in the Olympic pool in Sydney in the 100 m free style. However, VDH, as he is nicknamed, was not an unknown, having picked up 6 European titles in the pool in Istanbul in 1999.But it was in the 200 m freestyle that Van den Hoogenband made the front page of all the newspapers. He beat the new king of the pool Ian Thorpe, showing that he is amongst those who are unafraid of hype. The Dutchman added to his roll of honour with two bronze medals in the 50 m freestyle and in the relay.Nicknamed "Hoogie" by the Australians, as a child he wanted to play football, hockey, judo but certainly not swim. It was his ex-swimmer of a mother who forced him into swimming. This medical student is now the quickest swimmer in the world.