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Swimmer Caeleb Dressel Wins Men's 100-Meter Freestyle; Bobby Finke Takes Gold in 800 Free

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jul/29/2021

TOKYO — (AP) In an Olympics where many of the favorites have faltered, Caeleb Dressel lived up to the hype.

Dressel claimed the first individual Olympic gold medal of his career with two furious laps of the pool Thursday morning, winning the 100-meter freestyle over defending champion Kyle Chalmers.

As is his style, Dressel dove into the pool and came up with the lead. He was still ahead at the lone flip and turned away the Aussie’s bid for a second straight gold.

Dressel’s winning time was an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds — a mere six-hundredths of a second ahead of Chalmers, who had to settle for a silver this time.

“I wasn’t worried about anything,” Dressel said. “During the race, there’s only so much you can do. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. I stuck to my race plan, so if it got me first, OK, if it got me second, OK.”

The bronze was claimed by Russia’s Kliment Kolesnikov (47.44), who added to his silver in the 100 backstroke.

The first three gold medals of Dressel’s career were all in the relays: two in Rio de Janeiro, another in the 400 free relay at the Tokyo Games.

Now, Dressel has earned a gold all by himself.

“It is a lot different. I guess I thought it would be, I just didn’t want to admit to it,” he said. “It’s a lot tougher. You have to rely on yourself, there’s no one to bail you out from a bad split.”

Dressel climbed atop the lane rope, a look of wonder on his face, and held up the index finger on each hand.

No. 1 indeed.

Dressel’s gold was the second of the morning for the Americans, who got a surprise victory from Bobby Finke in the Olympic debut of the men’s 800 free.

Also winning golds: Australia’s Izaac Stubblety-Cook in the men’s 200 breaststroke and China’s Zhang Yufei in the women’s 200 butterfly.

After Michael Phelps retired, Dressel emerged as the world’s dominant swimmer.

He turned in staggering performances at the last two world championships, earning seven gold medals at Budapest in 2017, followed by a six-gold, two-silver performance at Gwangju in 2019.

As important as those meets were, they’re not the Olympics.

He needed an individual gold to solidify his legacy.

Mission accomplished.

“These moments are a lot different than worlds,” Dressel conceded.

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