The final day opens the pulse between the United States and Australia to dominate the swimming medal table
The first day of finals at the Tokyo Aquatic Center has left details of the rivalry that is expected this week between the United States and Australia for the hegemony of swimming and a couple of proper names, those of Chase Kalisz and Ahmed Hafnaoui. In the first case there is a tie for golds, with one for each country, although Team USA has collected twice as many medals this morning as its rival (6-3), who has responded at the end of the morning with the world record in the 4×100 relay female styles.
But the first name of the day has been Chase Kalisz. Not only for being the first Olympic swimming champion at the Tokyo Games. His glassy eyes when listening to the American anthem with the gold around his neck gave away what his victory in the 400 meters styles supposed. Since 1996, the United States has chained five consecutive golds in the event, which came to be considered American heritage until in Rio Chase it had to settle for silver, a memory that has haunted it during these five years. “He had engraved those final meters where he saw that he was unable to win,” acknowledged Kalisz, who had to bow to the Japanese Seto.
But the Japanese star sank in the semifinals and left a space that Kalisz has managed to take advantage of perfectly. In addition to hitting the table and restoring American dominance, Baltimore’s has achieved a personal triumph. After being double world champion in 2017, injuries have not left him calm and there were those who thought that at 27 years old he had already passed his best time. But Kalisz is used to fighting. At the age of 8 he suffered from Guillain-Barré disease, a neurological problem that causes the immune system to go to war with the nervous system. Kalisz was in a coma and unable to move, but her relationship with swimming was born out of that suffering. “When they left me in the water tank, I was relieved,” he recalls of the recovery process. He later joined Phelps’ training group to become one of the best styles specialists. And from today, Olympic champion. How not to cry …
The other protagonist has been Ahmed Hafnaoui, who at 18 years old, down the eighth street and after having been fourth in his semifinal, has teamed up to his rivals to give Tunisia its third swimming title, the second in the pool. The surprise was evident, you just had to see his coach running from one side of the stands to the other with his hands on his head. But in addition to discovering this talent, it has served to vindicate Tunisian swimming, badly hit by the refusal to compete of its great star Ousama Mellouli, Olympic champion of 1,500 meters freestyle in Beijing and open water in London. At 37 he had qualified for his sixth Games, but in June he announced his resignation due to a legal confrontation he has with the Tunisian federation over an economic issue. For Tunisia, their resignation was a blow, but today they shout with joy to find a gold that they had not even imagined.
At the end of the day came that world record from Australia in the women’s relay of styles, when she scored 3.29.69 and improved her own record. Today’s is the third consecutive title in this test.