Australia

First gold for Australia at Tokyo Olympics as women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team break own world record

Australia has won the Olympic women’s 4x100m freestyle relay gold medal at the Tokyo Games in a world-record time.

Flagbearer Cate Campbell, her sister Bronte, Emma McKeon and Meg Harris torched their opposition to win Sunday’s final in three minutes 29.69 seconds at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

The time bettered Australia’s previous world benchmark of 3:30.05 set at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The comprehensive victory – almost three seconds ahead of silver medallists Canada – delivers Australia a third consecutive Olympic title in the event.

“This is the third Olympics in a row that Australia has won this event and that in itself needs to be celebrated,” Campbell said.

“To do that for 12 years in a row is incredible.”

Campbell has been on all three relay triumphs while teen sensation Harris travelled to Tokyo thinking she was just a heat swimmer.

“I was just so happy to swim in the heats. And the opportunity to do it again is insane, I’m just happy to be here,” Harris said.

McKeon clocked a stunning 51.35, with her main rival Campbell’s 52.24 an indicator to form entering the individual race.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” McKeon said.

“It has all worked out well and with the support of these girls you always feel you’ve got a bit extra.”

Before swimming the relay final, McKeon cruised through a 100m butterfly semi-final amid a gruelling program featuring seven genuine medal shots.

In the men’s 400m freestyle final, McLoughlin almost pulled off a brash victory after resolving on outright aggression: set the pace, then hang on.

McLoughlin led until the final metre when outstretched by Tunisian surprise packet Ahmed Hafnaoui in lane eight.

“I just wanted to get out front and say ‘chase me’. It almost paid off,” McLoughlin said.

“I couldn’t see all the way over (to lane eight) … I knew they were coming at me and was just trying to get that hand on the wall.”

Cate Campbell (l) hugs Emma McKeon after the final of the women’s 100m freestyle at the world trials.

AAP

In the 400m medley final, 21-year-old Smith operated in reverse to McLoughlin. He was last with 100m remaining before a flying freestyle leg delivered bronze.

“When the Games were postponed I knew it gave me an opportunity to be one year older and one year stronger,” Smith said.

“It was a blessing for me but, saying that, I’ve gone through hell to be here.

“I’ve been swimming in the oceans for two months in Melbourne, getting down to 11-12 degrees in the water.”

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