Susie O'Neill

1973 -

Susan O'Neill ended her lustrous swimming career with eight Olympic medals - an Australian women's record, shared with Dawn Fraser and Petria Thomas. (Ian Thorpe, with nine, is the only Australian with more.) Dubbed "Madame Butterfly" for her peerless quality as a butterfly swimmer, O'Neill attended three Olympic Games - winning bronze in Barcelona in 1992; gold, silver and bronze in Atlanta in 1996; and a gold and three silvers in Sydney in 2000. Although she was more famous (and more comfortable) with the butterfly - in which she achieved world No.1 ranking over both the 100m and 200m - she was also rated world No.1 in the 200m freestyle through 1999-2000. After winning the 200m butterfly at the 1994 Commonwealth Games and 1995 Pan Pacific titles, she won the 1996 Olympic gold medal in that event, defeating Ireland's triple winner Michelle Smith, who was later found guilty of drug offences.

One of O'Neill's greatest triumphs came in May 2000, when she broke the 19-year-old 200m world record of the great Mary T. Meagher, swimming's first Madame Butterfly. Her career ended paradoxically at the Sydney Olympics, when she won the race she didn't expect to (the 200m freestyle), and finished second in the one she expected to win (the 200m butterfly). O'Neill, until then unbeaten in the butterfly event for six years, was the first Australian woman since Dawn Fraser to win gold in successive Olympics. She was elected to the IOC Athletes' Commission by competitors at the 2000 Games, but family obligations caused her to resign in 2005.

Harry Gordon, AOC historian

Olympic Results

Sydney 2000 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Butterfly - Women
Heat 59.49 3rd
Semi Final 59.05 5th
Final 59.27 7th
Final Placing 7 / 50
100m Freestyle - Women
Heat 57.78 7th
Final Placing 31 / 56
200m Butterfly - Women
Heat 2:07.97 1st
Semi Final 2:07.57 1st
Final 2:06.58 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 36
200m Freestyle - Women
Heat 1:59.14 1st
Semi Final 1:59.37 1st
Final 1:58.24 1st  
Final Placing 1 / 41
4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Women
Heat GRAHAM, E; RYAN, S; DODD, M; ROONEY, G 3:43.56 4th
Final O'NEILL, S; RYAN, S; GRAHAM, E; ROONEY, G 3:40.91 6th
Final Placing 6 / 13
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Women
Heat ROONEY, G; WHITE, T; THOMAS, P; RYAN, S 4:04.75 1st
Final CALUB, D; JONES, L; THOMAS, P; O'NEILL, S 4:01.59 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 18
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Women
Heat GRAHAM, E; THOMSON, K; VAN LINT, J; ROONEY, G 8:03.26 1st
Final O'NEILL, S; ROONEY, G; THOMSON, K; THOMAS, P 7:58.52 2nd  
Final Placing 2 / 15
50m Freestyle - Women
Heat 25.73 3rd
Semi Final 25.74 6th
Final Placing 12 / 74

Atlanta 1996 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Butterfly - Women
Heat 1:00.55 Q 2
Final 1:00.17 5
Final Placing 5 / 44
200m Butterfly - Women
Heat 2:09.46 Q 1
Final A 2:07.76 1  
Final Placing 1 / 35
200m Freestyle - Women
Heat 2:00.89 Q 1
Final A 1:59.87 5
Final Placing 5 / 42
4 x 100m Freestyle Relay - Women
Heat WINDSOR, A; RYAN, S; MACKIE, L; GREVILLE, J 3:47.94 Q 2
Final RYAN, S; GREVILLE, J; MACKIE, L; O'NEILL, S 3:45.31 6
Final Placing 6 / 19
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Women
Heat STEVENSON, N; DENMAN, H; KENNEDY, A; RYAN, S 4:08.87 Q 1
Final STEVENSON, N; RILEY, S; O'NEILL, S; RYAN, S 4:05.08 2  
Final Placing 2 / 24
4 x 200m Freestyle Relay - Women
Heat GREVILLE, J; MACKIE, L; JOHNSON, E; O'NEILL, S 8:09.33 Q 2
Final GREVILLE, J; STEVENSON, N; JOHNSON, E; O'NEILL, S 8:05.47 3  
Final Placing 3 / 21

Barcelona 1992 - Summer Olympic Games

100m Butterfly - Women
Heat 59.95 Q 2
Final A 59.69 5
Final Placing 5 / 49
100m Freestyle - Women
Heat 56.58 QB 5
Final B 56.68 7
Final Placing 15 / 48
200m Butterfly - Women
Heat 2:10.47 Q 1
Final A 2:09.03 3  
Final Placing 3 / 32
200m Freestyle - Women
Heat 2:01.05 QB 3
Final B 2:00.89 3
Final Placing 11 / 37
4 x 100m Medley Relay - Women
Heat MEEHAN, J; RILEY, S; O'NEILL, S; CURRY- KENNY, L 4:12.54 Q 2
Final STEVENSON, N; RILEY, S; O'NEILL, S; CURRY-KENNY, L 4:07.01 5
Final Placing 5 / 17