USA’s Caeleb Dressel celebrates winning to take gold in the final of the men’s 100m freestyle swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on July 29, 2021.
Team USA swim star Caeleb Dressel has won his first individual Olympic gold medal with a dominant victory in the 100m freestyle.
Dressel, 24, set a new Olympic record as he led the race from start to finish ahead of Kyle Chalmers of Australia, with Kliment Kolesnikov representing the ROC team in third place.
“It’s been a really tough year, it’s been so hard, so to get this result makes me so happy,” he told NBC as he fought back tears.
The Floridian, who pointed to the sky after the win, was the first swimmer into the water and turned in first place as his rivals tried to unsuccessfully reel him in.
But he would not be denied his victory and fought off his rivals to touch first in 47.02, breaking the record set at Beijing 2008.
Before the win, Dressel had three career relay golds at Olympics but no individual title.
His wife, family and friends were later shown by NBC cheering him on and celebrating wildly at home in Florida.
He made his debut at Rio 2016 where he won gold medals in the men’s 4x100m freestyle and in the 4x100m medley relays, while finishing sixth in the 100m freestyle final.
He won his third Olympic gold in the 4x100m freestyle at Tokyo 2020 earlier this week, and was seen tossing his medal to a teammate who swam in his place in the heat.
Dressel, who hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail during the pandemic, had set the fastest time in the world this year in his qualifying heat and was a strong favourite for gold.
He is now favoured to also win gold in the 50m freestyle and the 100m fly later in the competition, having swum the fastest times this year in both events.
Dressel is also expected to take part in the mixed medley and 4x100m medley relays.
Since the Rio games Dressel has also won 15 world championship medals, of which 13 have been gold.
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