At 18, the Tunisian Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui created a surprise by winning this Sunday over 400m nl, at the 2021 Olympics. On social networks, a video shows the enormous explosion of joy of his relatives.
At only 18 years old, the Tunisian Ahmed Ayoub Hafnaoui caused a sensation this Sunday at the Tokyo Olympics by becoming the second Olympic swimming champion in the history of his country, while the United States and Australia began their gold harvest.
Newcomer in the major championship and 8th qualifier for the final, Hafnaoui won the 400m freestyle in 3 min 43 sec 36, beating in the last length the Australian Jack McLoughlin (3: 43.52) and the American Kieran Smith (3 : 43.94).
“I’m very proud, very happy, I was thinking of my parents, that’s all. I had come here to win a medal in 400 and 800. Just a medal, any one,” he said. explained when leaving the basin.
Trained in Tunis by Jabrane Touili, the young man became the second Tunisian Olympic swimming champion after the coronation of Osama Mellouli over 1,500 m during the Beijing Games in 2008.
Also engaged in the 800m freestyle, he achieved a dazzling chronometric progression this year: he gained more than two seconds on Sunday compared to his time the day before, and still peaked at the beginning of May at 3: 49.90.
“I train alone with my coaches, it’s difficult but the result is there”, says this son of a basketball player who lives in Tunis, now convinced to “go to the end” on 800 m, whose series take place Tuesday evening.
On social networks, a video shows the huge explosion of his loved ones, with many cries and superb deliverance at the finish of the race.
“A little” surprised, his runner-up Jack McLoughlin recalled that “anything could happen” at the Games: “Ahmed is coming and achieving a huge personal best, it’s incredible and well done to him”.
Often placed but never a winner in a major championship, Yui Ohashi offered Japan her second title of these Games – after the gold of judoka Naohisa Takato – by winning the 400m medley.
If the camera deprived her of a triumph in front of her audience, the 25-year-old swimmer erased the disappointment Daiya Seto, her compatriot eliminated in the series the day before over 400 m medley, a distance of which he is three-time world champion .
In 4 min 32 sec 08 / 100th, the bronze medalist of the 2019 Worlds over this distance was clearly ahead of two Americans, the young favorite Emma Weyant (4: 32.76) and the butterfly specialist Hali Flickinger (4: 34.90).
“I really didn’t think I would win gold. A lot of people encouraged me so I was able to give all my strength (…) I had a pleasant race. It’s always a dream”, a- she explained to the Japanese media.
Medley legend three-time Olympic and nine-time world champion Katinka Hosszu got off to a great start but appeared to stall after 150 meters, finishing in 5th place (4: 35.98).
Untouchable Australian sprinters
If these two races escaped the American and Australian favorites, with their unparalleled density, the two queen swimming nations also opened their counter on Sunday.
The United States secured a double in the 400m medley, the first of 35 titles awarded to Rio, won by Chase Kalisz ahead of Jay Litherland, while the young Frenchman Léon Marchand finished 6th.
The Australian sprinters added to their third consecutive Olympic 4x100m relay title a new world record, in 3: 29.69, ahead of the Canadians and Americans.
On the medal table, US Swimming already has six awards, even before the entry into contention on Sunday of its main gold diggers, Katie Ledecky and Caeleb Dressel.
Australia has three, after two Olympic editions with ten medals in total, and hopes in particular for a first individual title for its swimmers since the gold of Stephanie Rice in 2008 in the 200m and 400m medley.