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The 22-year-old has grown in leaps and bounds since debuting at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games where he was fifth in the heats to now Olympics gold medallist.
It has been a dazzling rise to the top of the breaststroke swimming world for Zac Stubblety-Cook since debuting at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
While many will believe Stubblety-Cook has come out of nowhere to now be Olympic champion, it has been a constant incline of improvement through dedication and hard work to has now see him capture Australia’s first male breaststroke Olympic gold medal since five-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Ian O’Brien.
After making his Dolphins debut at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the then 19-year-old stumbled in his first major international meet finishing fifth in the 200m breaststroke heats to miss the semi-finals, but the fire had been lit.
Stubblety-Cook went on to win a silver medal in the same event at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo a year later.
But it was his clocking the second-fastest time in history with a 2:06.28 at the Australian Trials in Adelaide in June which saw him rocket into Olympic medal contention.
In the Olympic final, Stubblety-Cook was third at the final turn but stormed home in lane 4 to defeat Dutchman Arno Kamminga and Matti Mattsson of Finland in an Olympic record time of 2:06.38.
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The now 22-year-old overcame a sluggish start that saw him in sixth at the first turn to surge home to the gold medal, a tactic he had been preparing for.
Stubblety-Cook said he maintained the belief that he would time his fast finish to perfection.
“That’s the way I train, and that’s the way I race all the time,” he said post-race to Channel 7.
“So, at these Games, I won’t try to change a strength … It’s too late for that. I’m definitely just happy that the process pulled off.”
Stubblety-Cook said the gold medal finish was “unbelievable” and thanked his family who were watching on from Australia.
“Without their support, I couldn’t be here,” he said.
“But it’s been a tough five years, and I’m lost for words, to be honest.”
Four-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist Kyle Chalmers has won silver in the Olympic 100m freestyle final, just missing out on back-to-back Olympic gold medals in the event.
Chalmers took second place in a time of 47.08 seconds, finishing just 0.06s behind American winner Caeleb Dressel, but matching his personal best in the race.
Dressel held on to finish with a time 47.02 seconds to set an Olympic record.
“I gave everything I could,” Chalmers said after the race.
“But to win gold in 2016 and come back and win silver, it’s great.
“I left absolutely everything in the pool, and did everything I could to do it for my country.”
Congratulations to the @DolphinsAUS stars who claimed bronze for the @AUSOlympicTeam in the Women’s 4x200m Freestyle relay! 🏊♂️🇦🇺🥉💚💛#tokyotogether #swimming #Tokyo2020 #greatertogether https://t.co/4zoJ0ZpkgY pic.twitter.com/zq1Fa8gfLY
— Commonwealth Games Australia (@CommGamesAUS) July 29, 2021
To end the morning of swimming finals, despite being the fastest qualifiers and the heavy favourites, the Australian foursome has taken bronze in the 4×200 metres women’s freestyle relay, finishing behind China and the United States.
It took the Chinese team to swim a world record time of 7 :40.33 to beat both the US (7:40.73) and Australia (7:41.29), who swam the final under the previous world record time of 7:41.50 that Australia set back in 2019.
Titmus, who led out the Aussies in the first leg of the race, said the team performed well to break its 2019 world record.
“We were under our previous world record, so it was still a good swim from us,” Titmus said to Channel 7 post-race.