Mack Horton has won gold for Australia in the 400m freestyle final, edging Sun Yang in a tight finish. The race was somewhat of a grudge match because of a spicy build-up in which 20-year-old Horton called his Chinese rival a “drug cheat”.
“I don’t have time or respect for drug cheats,” said Horton, who told of an encounter with Sun earlier in the day in practice.
“He splashed me to say ‘hi’ and I ignored him. He wasn’t happy about that so he kept splashing me, and I just went in and did my thing.”
Sun served a three-month doping ban in 2014 that was kept secret and only announced in China retrospectively. Also, in 2013, he was detained for seven days for being involved in an accident while driving without a licence. And at last year’s world championships in Kazan, he was accused of assaulting a Brazilian swimmer in the warm up pool.
James Guy of Britain was the early pace-setter but coming into the final lap it was only a two-man race. The rivals were going stroke for stroke, Horton edging the favourite Sun by 0.13 seconds in a time of 3 minutes 41.55 seconds.
GOLD! @_mackhorton wins the 400m free in 3:41.55!
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) August 7, 2016
Sun broke down in tears surrounded by Chinese media after his defeat.
Horton and Sun ignored each other in the moments after the race but did shake hands at the medal ceremony.
“I don’t know if it’s a rivalry between me and him – just me and athletes who have tested positive I guess,” Horton said.
Australia won a second gold in world record time in the night’s final race – the women’s 4x100m freestyle. Team USA were leading after the first two legs but the Aussies still had their two trump cards – Cate and Bronte Campbell – to finish strongly. Emma McKeon and Brittany Elmslie were the other two members of the champion quartet. Canada finished third.
— 7 News Sydney (@7NewsSydney) August 7, 2016
The men’s 400m individual medley has been a race dominated by Americans Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte in the last few Olympics, but Phelps chose to skip this event and focus on the shorter 200m IM while Lochte failed to qualify.
It paved the way for a lesser-known American, Chase Kalisz, to be their successor, and he was close to the lead after the third leg, the breaststroke. However, Kalisz had to settle for silver behind Japan’s Kosuke Hagino, who finished the strongest in the freestyle leg to win gold, with compatriot Daiya Seto grabbing bronze.
Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu had the individual performance of the day in the pool, and along with Katie Ledecky of USA, could be the swimmer of the meet. Nicknamed ‘The Iron Lady’, she smashed the women’s 400IM world record – previously held by China’s Ye Shiwen – by more than two seconds. Hungary now has a tally of 169 gold medals in its history, the most for a country that has never hosted the Olympics.
What a night!!!! Thank you for all the congratulations! pic.twitter.com/m5oIO6HOjH
— Iron Lady (@HosszuKatinka) August 7, 2016
Britain’s Adam Peaty will be the overwhelming favourite in the 100m breaststroke as he swam the fastest qualifying time in the semis. But it was actually earlier in the day, in the heats, that he broke his own world record with a time of 57.55.