Veteran Australian sprinter Cate Campbell said winning the women’s 4x100m medley relay gold medal on Sunday was all the sweeter because they dethroned arch-rivals the United States.
The Americans were two-time defending champions but the Australian team of Kaylee McKeown, Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon and Campbell proved too hot too handle. They touched in a new Olympic record time of 3min 51.60sec ahead of the US (3:51.73) and Canada (3:52.60), with Campbell bringing them home. “It’s a little bit more special being able to get a win from behind, over the Americans,” said Campbell, who is at her fourth Olympics and has often suffered at US hands. “I’ve been in some incredibly close battles with them over the years where they’ve got me, but to do it on the world’s biggest stage, it’s a dream come true.” It was Campbell’s eighth Olympic medal over her long career. However, her achievements pale in comparison with those of McKeon, who secured a seventh Tokyo medal, a feat no other female swimmer has ever achieved at a single Olympics. Canada’s Kylie Masse was fastest through the opening backstroke leg before teenager Lydia Jacoby put the Americans in front following the breaststroke.
A blistering butterfly swim from McKeon closed the gap, leaving Campbell to produce a devastating final 100m to reel in US freestyler Abbey Weitzeil and win gold. “I think there’s a range of emotions but overall we got silver, we are extremely proud of ourselves. We went out there and did the best we could,” said Weitzeil. “I think we all did a good job of swimming our own race and just putting together what we could on our own leg.”