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McKeon makes Australian Olympic history in the pool

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On a day where the Australian Olympic Team wins a record four gold medals, it is 12-time Commonwealth Games medallist Emma McKeon who becomes the most decorated Australian Olympian of all-time.

Heading into the final day of the Olympics swimming and having already won five Olympic medals, swimming superstar Emma McKeon joined the pantheon of Australian sport by adding two gold medals to become the most decorated Australian Olympian in history.

Beginning her morning in the 50m freestyle, an event that is traditionally decided by a matter of hundreds of seconds, McKeon came into the final as the red-hot favourite having set new Olympic records in the heat and semi-final.

She went even better in the final of the event, to set a new Olympic record en route to her third gold of the Tokyo Olympics and finish 0.26 seconds clear of Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem, who holds the world record, and ahead of teammate Cate Campbell who finished seventh.

 

 

McKeon and Campbell would return less than an hour later to compete in the women’s 4x100m medley relay final, a race that would be a classic.

The relay final was an absolute shootout between Australia, the US and Canada that was eventually sealed by Cate Campbell‘s fantastic anchoring leg.

The Australian team were led off by now three-time Olympic gold medallist Kaylee McKeown, who completed her own incredible meet by touching second after the backstroke leg, a position Australia would hold right until Campbell’s final touch.

Olympic debutant Chelsea Hodges swam the best leg of her life in the breaststroke to keep Australia within touch of the Americans, McKeon swimming butterfly made significant ground late to set up a blockbuster finish.

Eight-time Commonwealth Games medallist Campbell then used all of her immense experience to go with American Abbey Weitzel stroke for stroke for the entirety of their final 100m freestyle leg, but it was the Aussie who touched 0.13 seconds faster, setting an Olympic record time of 3 minutes, 51.60 seconds.

 

 

The two Australian gold medals on the final day meant the squad became the most successful gold-medal winning swim squad in Australian Olympic history with nine, but for McKeon the victories elevated her to the echelon of Australian swimming.

McKeon not only became the greatest medal winner in Australian Olympic history – surpassing Commonwealth Games legends Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones, but she became the first Australian ever to win four golds at a single Olympics.

Taking her Rio 2016 relay gold into account, McKeon joined Thorpe as the only Australian ever to win five career golds.

Australia’s men put up a fight of their own in their 4x100m medley relay, but couldn’t quite get into the medal positions, finishing fifth.

Kyle Chalmers produced another rapid final leg but it wasn’t enough, with the United States team winning with a world record time of 3 minutes, 26.78.

It wasn’t to be for the men, but the gold rush from Australia’s elite swimmers is a result of the funding, facilities and mentors required to succeed, with many building off their success and their experiences earned from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Ariarne Titmus, Kaylee McKeown and Zac Stubblety-Cook, all began their Dolphins careers at the Gold Coast Games, Titmus winning three gold medals, McKeown finishing fourth in the finals, and Stubblety-Cook stunningly not progressing pass the heats, but now all three are Olympic champions.

 

 

Away from the pool, AusCycling’s Logan Martin won gold in the men’s freestyle BMX, the first time the event has been held at the Olympics.

Martin was top seeded and therefore the favourite to win going into the contest.

Competitors are given 60 seconds to perform as many tricks as possible and are scored on difficulty and execution.

He scored 93.30 in his first of two runs and held that lead to the end.

It is the first gold medal Australia has won in a land-based sport at this Olympic Games.

 

 

Later in the day, back in the water, Australian Olympic history was made when sailor Matt Wearn claimed gold in the men’s laser sailing event after holding an unassailable points lead ahead of the medal race.

It is Australia’s third straight gold medal in the event, following the victories recorded by Tom Slingsby at the London 2012 Olympics, and Tom Burton at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

It is also the medal that marks the most successful single day for Australia in Olympic history.

 

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