Pieter van den Hoogenband
Pieter van den Hoogenband is a former triple Olympic Champion and world record holder. As a 15-year-old boy, he made his international debut during the Youth Olympic Days in Valkenswaard (now European Youth Olympics Festival) by winning two Gold and one Silver medals.
During his first Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996, he achieved immediate success with the seniors by finishing fourth in both the 100- and 200-metre freestyle. After winning six Gold medals at the European Championship long distance in Istanbul in 1999, he was a favorite for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Pieter beat his formidable opponent in the 200-metre freestyle, Ian Thorpe, with a World Record. He also set a World Record in the 100-metre freestyle and was the first swimmer in history to swim under 48 seconds with a time of 47.84 seconds, the record of which stood for 8 years.
Four years later, Pieter prolonged his Olympic title in the 100-metre freestyle, achieved by only two swimmers ( Johnny ‘Tarzan’ Weissmuller and Russian Alexander Popov). In addition to Gold, he won two more Silver medals in the 200-metre freestyle and the 4×100-metre relay.
During his last 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where he wanted to go for a third Gold medal in the 100 metres, Pieter broke his own national record that stood from the 2000 Summer Olympics, bringing it to 47.68 seconds, and finished fifth. In making the 100-metre freestyle final, he became the first swimmer to make the finals in the same event four times. A unique achievement.