August 18, 2008 — Former USC NCAA Champion Ous Mellouli, a Viterbi School graduate, became the first man to defeat Grant Hackett in the 1500-meter freestyle in 11 years. He broke the Aussie stranglehold to win Tunisia’s first-ever swimming gold medal on the final day of swimming at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Medal winners, from left: Grant Hackett, Ous Mellouli and Ryan Cochrane. Photo/Getty Images
Following Mellouli’s win, USC senior Rebecca Soni swam the breaststroke leg for the U.S. 4x100m medley relay, which resulted in a silver medal.
Mellouli, a four-time All-American in the mile, trailed the first two-thirds of the race before taking over first after 1100 meters. Coached in Beijing by USC head swimming coach Dave Salo, Mellouli stretched his lead to almost a second-and-a-half with only 100 meters to go.
Hackett cut more than half a second off the lead with 50 meters to go, but couldn’t catch a sprinting Mellouli over the final 50 meters as the Tunisian won in 14:40.84, an African record which made him the second-fastest man ever in the race. Hackett, the world record holder in the race, finished in 14:41.53.
Mellouli graduated with a bachelor of science in computer science from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering in 2007. He is currently a graduate student in USC’s Rossier School of Education.