Born to a family of medical doctors, David Theile learned to swim at the age of five, and became one of the world’s best backstrokers by the later 1950s. Theile won his first Australian title in the 110 yd backstroke in 1955, defending that title in 1956 and also won the Australian Olympic trials with a world record of 1:02.9 to establish himself as a favorite for 100 backstroke gold at the 1956 Olympics.
His closest rival at the Olympics was teammate John Monckton. Theile had a unique turn which seemed to help him gain time on his opponents but was of questionable legality. He had been given an unofficial warning by the judges for using this turn in the heats and decided to use a more orthodox method in the semis. In the final Thiele reverted to his original technique, using it to good effect to defeat Monckton by a second to win the Olympic title in a world record 1:02.2.
After the Olympics, Theile continued competing, but after being disqualified from the Queensland state championships in 1957 due to his turn technique, he retired from sports to concentrate on his medical studies at the University of Queensland, but made a brief comeback in 1960 to defend his Olympic title. Although Theile had won his third Australian title in 1960, at Rome, he was considered a longshot for gold, the 100 back favorite role going to world record holder Monckton, but in the Olympic final, Monckton misjudged the turn and broke a finger as he smashed into the wall, and Theile won gold comfortably ahead of two Americans Frank McKinney and Bob Bennett. A day after his backstroke victory, Theile led the Australian medley relay team to a silver medal.
Athlete Olympic Results Content