Adam Peaty showed his class as he powered his way to a second Olympic gold medal in the men’s 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo aquatics centre on Monday. The Briton, the reigning World and Olympic champion and also the world record holder in the event, came out with his usual swagger. He was never in trouble as he romped home in style, giving his country its first gold of the Games.
The 26-year-old, however, was nowhere near his world record of 56.88, set at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. He took the lead right at the start and went on to win in 57.37, marginally slower than the 57.13 he had clocked in Rio 2016.
The poor timing was understandable as there none in the rest of the field to push Peaty. The rust caused by the lack of competitions during the last two years due to the outbreak of COVID-19 could have been another reason for the slow race. Dutchman Arno Kamminga, who finished in 58.00, took silver while Italian Nicolo Martinenghi (58.33) claimed the bronze.
It was a memorable day for Australian Ariane Titmus as she got the better of American Katie Ledecky in the women’s 400m freestyle final.
The showdown between the two swimmers went on expected lines as the American, who had done her country proud four years ago with a tally of four golds, failed to match the in-form Titmus, the latter coming back strongly in the final two laps.
The 20-year-old was content to stay behind Ledecky who, after being third at the end of the first 50m, got her nose in front and remained there until Titmus came up with her final ‘kick’ in the last 100m.
Ledecky did try to catch up with Titmus in the final lap but the Australian, enjoying a two-stroke lead, continued to pull away and won the race in a time of 3:56.69, a new Oceanian record.
Ledecky clocked 3:57.36 for the silver, ahead of China’s Li Bingjie, in at 4:01.08 – a new Asian record.
The form book also stayed true in the women’s 100m butterfly as reigning World champion Margaret MacNeil (Canada) won the gold in businesslike fashion, getting to top of the field by the end of the first lap and cruising home in a new American record time of 55.69.
She held a one-stroke lead over China’s Yufei Zhang who finished in 55.64. Australia’s Emma McKeon took the bronze with a new Oceanian record time of 55.72.
Calaeb Dressel, who will have the arc lights firmly trained on him in the coming days, led the United States to a comfortable win in the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Dressel, who is the only surviving member of the quartet which took the gold in Rio 2016, put his team in a comfortable position before Blake Pieronni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple took the team home in a time of 3:07.97. Italy finished in 3:10.11 ahead of Australia (3:10.22).