Swimming

History-maker Emma McKeon wins seventh medal at Tokyo 2020

Australia's Emma McKeon experienced pride and disbelief in equal measure after winning two more golds at the Tokyo Games yesterday to become the first female swimmer to win seven medals at a single Olympics.

The 27-year-old from Wollongong, New South Wales, set an Olympic record to win the 50m freestyle in 23.81 seconds, finishing 0.26sec ahead of Sweden's Sarah Sjoestroem and 0.40sec faster than Denmark's Pernille Blume.

McKeon, who had also won the 100m free in an Olympic record time earlier, was back in the pool around half an hour later to clinch another gold medal, this time as part of Australia's 4x100m medley relay team.

She delivered a strong butterfly leg before Cate Campbell sprinted home for gold as Australia won in a Games record time of 3min 51.60sec, pipping the US by 0.13sec and Canada by a second.

It was her 11th Olympic medal - and fifth gold - as she became the country's most decorated Olympian.

Her haul eclipses the nine medals won by Ian Thorpe and fellow swimmer Leisel Jones, putting her two clear at the top of Australia's all-time list.

"It's very surreal," McKeon said yesterday at the end of a nine-day meet at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

"I only hear from you guys those kinds of stats.

"I look at the athletes that have gone before me and have been so impressed and inspired by what they've done but I've never been into the stats and medal counts.

"But to be in that kind of company, it's an honour and I know I've worked hard for it."

The undisputed sprint queen also claimed a gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay and took bronzes in the 100m butterfly, 4x200m freestyle relay and the 4x100m mixed medley relay.

In all, McKeon swam 13 races in nine days.

"I feel like I prepared for that," she said. "I've been at these meets before where the emotions are so up and down. I knew what to expect.

"We knew it was going to be an emotional roller-coaster. After getting a gold medal, I could celebrate but also was trying to keep the emotions at bay.

"That's why now it's going to take a bit of time to sink in because I've been forcing myself to keep cool."

McKeon has not been a star name even in Australia, where the 20-year-old Ariarne Titmus has taken many of the plaudits for pipping America's Katie Ledecky to double gold in the 200m and 400m free.

"She's flown under the radar but this has most definitely been Emma McKeon's meet," Thorpe told Australia's Channel 7. "She skips across the water in a way that we don't often see." - AFP

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