Anthony Nesty - The One and Only, Pt. 3

Some countries have won just one single gold medal in their Olympic history. We portray them in our series "The One and Only". One of them: Suriname. 

One 50 meters pool, ten 25 meters pools - this was all Suriname's swimmers had back in 1988. Certainly not the training facilities for an Olympic champion. That is one reason why the only gold medal winner coming from former Dutch Guayana was a typical breed of the United States' high school and college sport system (picture: extratime.uol.com).

Anthony Nesty was born in Trinidad in 1967. When he was seven years old, his family emigrated to Suriname, with little Anthony learning to swim at the age of five in the Carribean sea. His career did not really started off before he went to The Bolles School in Jacksonville in 1985 and later came to the University of Florida.

When he arrived at Seoul for the 1988 Olympics, he was not really unknown any more, having won the Pan-American Games title in the 100 meters butterfly in Indianapolis the year before. Nesty was a sure bet for a place in the final in Seoul on September 21st, 1988. But the center stage was expected to belong to superstars Matt Biondi from the U.S.A. and West Germany's Michael Groß.

But then Nesty stole the show - the same way and even more impressive than Australian Duncan Armstorng had done two days before, defeating Biondi and Groß in the 200 meters freestyle in a new world record time. In the 100 meters butterfly, Nesty came from behind and clocked an Olympic record of 53.00, edging out Biondi by one hundredth of a second. Great Britain's Andrew Jameson took the bronze (53.30), while "Albatros" Groß finished a disappointing fifth (53.44).

Nesty's triumph was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for his rouhgly 380,000 countrymen. Back home, they named aircrafts and stadiums after their new national hero. Suriname even put Nesty's picture on a coin (picture: numitsa.com). The man who made the least fuss about his triumph, was Nesty himself. ''After the prelims,'' he said, ''I knew I had a chance to win the race. I knew I was going to be in the top three.'' At the end of the day, it was his better gliding to the wall that had ensured his victory over Biondi.

In the following years, Nesty proved that he was by no means a one hit wonder. He won the Godwill Games in Seattle in 1990 and became a world champions the following year in Perth. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Nesty finished third behind winner Pablo Morales, the men who had kept the 100 yards butterfly prep school record at Bolles until 1987. Then, this mark was broken by a young man who was going to become Olympic Champion one year later: Anthony Nesty.

Suriname's only gold medalist ever is an assistant head coach with the Florida Gators' swimming team today (picture: radio10.sr).

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