Tokyo Olympics: Brendon Smith shines, Australian stars move to finals on playoff opening night

Australia is in the box to snatch the first gold from the Tokyo pool after two of its swimmers set new ocean records.

Brendon Smith broke his personal best in nearly a second, setting an Australian record along the way, to qualify faster for the 400m individual combined final this morning.

Emma McKeon also sent a strong message by setting a new national record to qualify for the semi-finals of this morning’s 100-meter butterfly at 55.82, the fastest time along with China’s Zhang Yufei, who swam in the same heat.

The Australian women’s 4x100m freestyle relay, featuring Mollie O’Callaghan, Meg Harris, Madison Wilson and Bronte Campbell, also made a statement with the fastest qualifying time ahead of Sunday morning’s final.

In a surprising result in the men’s 400-meter individual medley final, Japanese world champion Daiyo Seto missed the cut, but 21-year-old Smith will still have to hold off New Zealand swimmer Lewis Clareburt and Americans Jay Litherland and Chase Kalisz. , this last silver medalist in Rio four years ago.

Smith unleashed in his final freestyle stage to win his series and qualify faster in 4: 09.27, more than a second faster than the Australian record he set last month.

The Victorian said he had paid special attention to his freestyle stage before Tokyo and the extra work with coach Wayne Lewis seemed to have paid off.

“It’s something my coach and I worked on, trying to finish the race, really happy that we were able to do it,” Smith said.

McKeon, who hails from New South Wales, said she was delighted to have performed strongly after putting the nerves of her first Olympic outing aside.

Emma McKeon started out strong.
Camera iconEmma McKeon started out strong. Credit: Martin Meissner/AP

“The adrenaline was quite high being my first race, and my first race of the Olympics, he said.

“I knew the Chinese girl next to me would be quick. I saw her go pretty fast at the end of last year. He really didn’t know what anyone was going to do. I feel like everyone is on an equal footing once you get to the semi-finals and finals. “

Western Australian Brianna Throssell also reached the semi-finals despite posting a disappointing 58.08 in the playoffs, a second slower than her Olympic qualifier.

That performance was followed by Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin finishing in a tie at 3: 45.20 in the 400-meter individual freestyle to reserve both places in the starting block for today’s final.

Swimming in legend Ian Thorpe’s favorite event, and one in which Australia has a strong history, the pair’s qualifying time was fourth fastest overall.

Winnington, who entered the Games with hopes of winning a medal, admitted feeling the pressure before swimming.

“I was quite nervous about reaching the final. In fact, it’s my first time swimming internationally, ”he said.

“I saw that Jack was making a move in the late 50’s and the American guys were making a move too. I had to drop the hammer with 15 to make sure it could safely touch the wall and I did. “


The first night’s results mean that the outrageous claim by American Lilly King that American swimmers would win every women’s individual Olympic gold is on shaky ground.

McKeon qualified ahead of American swimmers Torri Huske (56.29) and Claire Curzan (57.49), who were outmatched in their respective heats.

The long-standing rivalry between Australia and the US in the Olympic pool has been largely one-sided over the past decade, and our national swim team is hoping that Tokyo will do away with the ghosts of two disappointing Games in a row.

King’s bold comment on the eve of the Olympics came after the breaststroke specialist, who has not lost a race in her signature 100-meter event since 2015, claimed two golds in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

It has provided additional motivation to an Australian swim team desperate for revenge after failing to meet expectations in 2012 and 2016.

Much of the nation’s hopes rest on the shoulders of Australia’s new swimming sensation, Ariarne Titmus, who hits the pool for the first time tonight during qualifying for the 400m freestyle, one of four events in the who will go face to face with American Katie Ledecky.

A five-time Olympic gold medalist, 24-year-old Ledecky, considered the greatest of all time in her home country, is competing in her third Olympics and holds the world record in the 400m and 800m and 1500m freestyle.

Tasmanian Titmus, 20, is competing in his first Games and will compete with Ledecky in the 200, 400 and 800m freestyle events as well as the 4x200m relay, but it is the individual 400m that will be the longest. Following. Also in the water, for the first time today, is her partner Kaylee McKeown, 20, who ranks first in the world in three events: 100 and 200m backstroke and 200m individual medley.

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