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America's First Medal of Tokyo Games Won by Swimmer

Chase Kalisz takes gold in the 400-meter individual medley
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 25, 2021 5:00 AM CDT
Chase Kalisz Wins America Its First Olympic Medal
United States' Chase Kalisz swims to win the gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 25, 2021, in Tokyo.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Newser) – Chase Kalisz won the first American medal of the Tokyo Games, taking gold Sunday in the men’s 400-meter individual medley and putting an end to the US' one-day medal drought. The AP reports Jay Litherland made it a 1-2 finish for the powerhouse US team, rallying on the freestyle leg to take the silver. Brendon Smith of Australia claimed the bronze. Kalisz, a protege and former training partner of Olympic great Michael Phelps, touched first in 4 minutes, 9.42 seconds. Litherland was next in 4:10.28, just ahead of Smith (4:10.38). Kieran Smith grabbed another medal for the Americans with bronze in the men's 400 freestyle. Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui was the surprising winner from lane eight, while Australia's Jack McLoughlin settled for silver after leading much of the race.

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The win by Kalisz, 27, continues America's domination of the race, the first swimming race of each Olympics. Phelps won it in 2004 and 2008; Ryan Lochte took gold in 2012. Kalisz took silver in the 2016 Rio Games, reports USA Today, which notes Japan’s Daiya Seto had been favored to win but in a surprise twist, didn't manage to advance out of the qualifiers on Saturday. He finished ninth in the preliminaries after making a tactical error attempting to save his energy for the medal race. WBAL reports Kalisz will next compete Wednesday in the 200m medley.

(Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)

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