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Women’s 4x100m freestyle team grabs Olympic gold and world record

Julian Linden, July 26, 2021 8:50AM News Corp Australia Network

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Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell collect their gold medals after winning the women's 4x100m freestyle relay final on day two of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraBronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell collect their gold medals after winning the women's 4x100m freestyle relay final on day two of the Tokyo Olympic Games. Picture: Getty Images

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Just when the whole nation needed a lift, our golden girls of the pool delivered with a spectacular win in the 4x100m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics.

The team of Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell not only took Australia’s first gold medal of the Games, but also set a new world record, smashing the old record the Australian women set at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

It is the third time in a row Australia has won the event at the Olympics.

Collecting their medals from a tray because of Covid-19 rules, the four Australians presented each other with their prizes in what already ranks as one of the most touching moments of the Tokyo Games.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 2 media_cameraBronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell pose after winning the gold medal and breaking the world record in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Picture: Getty Images

“We push each other and challenge each other but we do that in a really supportive way,” Cate said.

“There is no malice* and no animosity* towards one another and I think that has just spoken volumes.

“This is the third Olympics in a row that Australia has won this event and that in itself really needs to be celebrated. To do that for 13 years in a row is incredible.”

Cate, Bronte and McKeon were on the team that won gold at the 2016 Rio Games but Cate is the only member who was also part of the team that won in London in 2012, so joins legends Dawn Fraser and Libby Trickett as the only Australian swimmers to win gold medals at three Olympics.

Earlier on the second day of competition, Australia won its first medal of the Tokyo Olympic Games, when Brendon Smith stormed home to win bronze in the men’s 400m individual medley*.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 2 media_cameraBrendon Smith was Australia’s first medal winner of the Tokyo Games, taking bronze in the men’s 400m individual medley. Picture: Getty Images

The 21-year-old pulled out a heroic final freestyle leg to mow down the field and touch the wall third. It was an incredible comeback after he found himself in the last couple of places with 100m to go.

“Unbelievable. I can’t believe it,” Smith told Chanel Seven after the race. “Twelve months ago when the Games were cancelled or postponed, I thought (it would) give me another opportunity, another year to better my preparation.

“To improve that much and to be able to get on the podium* is incredible.”

Our second medal came when Jack McLoughlin collected silver in the men’s 400m freestyle final, just missing out on gold by 0.16 of a second.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 2 media_cameraJack McLoughlin puts his silver medal around is neck in the Covid-19 safe medal ceremony after the men’s 400m freestyle final at Tokyo. Picture: Getty Images

But the day belonged to the golden girls of the pool, the Campbell sisters, McKeon and Harris. They were red-hot favourites to win gold – but their swim still blew the world away.

The team became the first to break the 3min 30sec barrier with a time of 3min 29.69sec.

They were three seconds clear of their nearest rivals and smashed their own record from 2018 by half a second.

Swimming - Olympics: Day 2 media_cameraCate Campbell in the water and Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell and Meg Harris on the pool deck celebrate after winning the gold medal and breaking the world record in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay. Picture: Getty Images

It might have been by the last time the Campbell sisters swam together and, if so, would be the perfect way for them to sign off.

“I know these girls are like my family and we’ve all grown up together but Cate is literally my family so to stand up with my sister is pretty is incredible,” Bronte said.

“Every single career has a journey you go on, and for us being in the relay has always been a high point and we’ve always really loved it.”

Swimming - Olympics: Day 2 media_cameraThe Australian team on the podium with the second placed Canadian team to the left and third placed US team to the right. Picture: Getty Images

Two other swimmers, Mollie O’Callaghan and Madi Wilson, teamed up with Bronte Campbell and Harris in the heat of the 4x100m freestyle and posted the fastest qualifying time.

Cate Campbell and McKeon replaced O’Callaghan, 17, and Wilson, 27, in the final. But under Olympic rules, anyone who swims in the heats gets the same medals as the finalists.

However, their medals are not presented to them at the official medal ceremony. Instead, heat swimmers get presented with their medals at the end of the competition at a private team ceremony.

“It’s really very special because if you’re in the final you get to present the heat swimmers with their medals. It’s just so nice,” Wilson said.

“We’re all such close friends and we all get around each other and support each other and I know we’re not supposed to give each other a hug, but sometimes we can’t help it.”

GLOSSARY

  • malice: wish to harm or upset others
  • animosity: strong feeling of dislike
  • individual medley: event where each swimmer swims butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle
  • podium: platform where first, second and third placegetters receive their medals

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Name the members of the 4x100m women’s freestyle relay team.
  2. How many times in a row has Australia won the 4x100m women’s freestyle final at the Olympics?
  3. Who won Australia’s first medal of the Tokyo Games?
  4. What medal did they win: gold, silver or bronze?
  5. When do the heat swimmers from the relay get their medals?

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