Olympics: Tunisian swimmer Hafnaoui pulls off upset to win 400m free
Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui pulled off a major shock on the opening day of the Tokyo Olympics swimming medal events with a stunning victory in the men’s 400m freestyle, while American Chase Kalisz powered to victory in the men’s 400m medley on Sunday (July 25).
The 18-year-old, in the outside lane after being the slowest in qualifying, produced a blistering finish to pip Australia’s Jack McLoughlin (3:43.52) to gold with a time of 3:43.36, with US swimmer Kieran Smith (3:43.94) taking bronze.
“I believe it when I touched the wall ... I was so surprised I didn’t accept that,” he told a news conference.
“I dedicate (the gold) to all my family, my mum, my dad, my sisters, I wish they are proud of me.”
Hafnaoui powered home over the last 50m, touching the wall in 3:43.36, far quicker than the 3:45.68 he swam in qualifying on Saturday.
Kalisz, the 400m medley silver medallist in Rio, went one better with a time of 4:09.42 as part of a United States one-two with Jay Litherland 0.86 behind.
Australia’s Brendon Smith was a further 10th of a second back taking bronze.
Kalisz, 27, grabbed the lead on the first length of the backstroke after France’s Leon Marchand had led after the butterfly leg and never looked back.
He battled with New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt through the breaststroke but the Kiwi faded badly in the freestyle and finished seventh.
“It means the world. This is the last thing that I really wanted to accomplish in my swimming career,” said Kalisz.
“It was something that was a dream of mine for as long as I could remember. I can’t believe it.” – REUTERS