Natalie Coughlin burst onto the international swim scene at the 2001 World Championships, winning a gold medal in the 100 backstroke and a bronze in the 50 backstroke. In 2002 at the Pan-Pacifics, she was more dominant, winning six medals, four gold, with three individual championships in the 100 free, 100 fly, and 100 back. Coughlin was an early favorite for the 2004 Olympics, but her performance in 2003, and especially at the World Championships, was lackluster. There she won only two relay medals, although it was later revealed that she was quite sick and had considered not competing. Although somewhat overshadowed by the media attention given Michael Phelps, Coughlin was the top female swimmer at the 2004 Olympic Games, winning five medals, including two gold. Individually, she won the 100 metre backstroke and finished third in the 100 freestyle. She won her second gold medal in the 800 metre freestyle relay, and added two silvers as a member of the United States’ teams in the other relays.
Coughlin continued after 2004 and won a 4x200 freestyle relay gold medal at the 2005 World Championships. In 2007, she won the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle at the Worlds, adding a gold medal in the 4x2 free relay. In Beijing, she was again eclipsed by the frenzy that surrounded American swimmers Michael Phelps and Dara Torres. But she competed in six events, winning a medal in all of them, highlighted by an individual gold medal in the 100 backstroke, becoming the first woman to defend that Olympic title. In three Olympics, she competed in 12 events and won 12 medals, three gold. This gives her an unusual Olympic record, tied with Paavo Nurmi, of having entered the most Olympic events, and winning a medal in all of them.
Athlete Olympic Results Content
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