Kaylee McKeown leads Australian charge as Olympic swimmers win four more medals
Australia’s medal rush at the Tokyo 2020 continued on Saturday with the Dolphins adding gold, silver and two bronze medals to their already-sizeable haul at the pool. Kaylee McKeown won her second individual gold of the Olympics with victory in the women’s 200m backstroke, while two-time gold medallist Ariarne Titmus added a silver to her tally in the women’s 800m freestyle.
Australian swimming veteran Emily Seebohm secured third behind McKeown and silver medallist Kylie Masse of Canada in the backstroke, meaning she has now won a medal at four Olympics. Australia’s relay team then rounded out the haul with bronze in the mixed medley relay, the first time in Olympic history men and women have swum together in a relay.
Twenty-year-old McKeown had demonstrated her backstroke dominance earlier in the week to win gold in the 100m event. She trailed Masse for most of 200m, but a rapid final lap saw McKeown overtake her rival to touch the wall just short of a new Olympic record time.
In the women’s 800m, Katie Ledecky got the better of her rival Titmus. The American led from the start and withstood a late charge from the Australian to touch home more than a second ahead of Titmus. Ledecky’s win means the pair have won two gold medals each at Tokyo 2020.
“I’m really happy that I could perform when it mattered,” said Titmus as she concluded her meet with two gold medals, one silver and one relay bronze. “I’m relieved it’s done now, it’s sad that my Tokyo campaign is over. But I’m really happy with how I performed this week.”
Titmus said she was “over the moon” to be on the podium in an event that Ledecky has dominated for the past decade.
“I’d love to have a good break,” she said. “I’ll talk to Dean [Boxall, her coach] now about what we do next. But I definitely need time to let my mind recover, my body recover – my shoulder needs a good break. To reflect – I don’t really like to say that – but I think I really do have to think about what I achieved here, have time away from the pool, so I can get ready and get up for next year.”
Australia’s success in the relays continued on Saturday, with the Dolphins securing a fifth relay medal in Tokyo 2020 with two relays remaining. The Australian team of McKeown, Zac Stubblety-Cook, Matthew Temple and Emma McKeon had enough to see off a fast-finishing United States – McKeon held off American sprint star Caeleb Dressel. The race posed a tactical dilemma for teams, who were required to use two male and two female swimmers but had discretion as to order.
In the first final of the morning, American Dressel broke the world record to win gold in the men’s 100m butterfly as Australia’s Matthew Temple hit the wall in equal fifth.
In the last semi-final of the meet, Australia’s McKeon broke the Olympic record to qualify fastest in the women’s 50m freestyle final. She will be joined by compatriot Cate Campbell, who qualified sixth fastest. The pair finished first and third respectively in the women’s 100m freestyle final on Friday; after their comfortable qualification, they will be among the favourites for the one lap sprint.
The Tokyo 2020 swim meet concludes on Sunday morning with a bumper morning of medal action. The men and women will each contest the 50m freestyle splash and dash, before the men’s endurance 1500m freestyle. The meet will conclude with the men’s and women’s 4×100 medley relays.