Mack Horton has claimed Australia’s first gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, winning the men’s 400m freestyle final over China’s Sun Yang and the USA’s Conor Dwyer.
The 20-year-old won Australia’s first gold of the Rio Olympics in a personal best time of 3:41.55.
It capped off a tense build-up to the race, where the rivalry between Horton and China’s Sun Yang reached boiling point.
Yang, a two-time Olympic gold medallist at London in the 400m and 1500m freestyle events, had splashed Horton in the training pool before the Olympic meet kicked off.
The race itself was a tough one, with Britain’s James Guy and fellow Australian David McKeon choosing to go out early.
Both faded towards the middle of the race, however, as the true distance specialists Dwyer, Yang and Horton took over.
It became apparent around the 300-metre mark that it would be a race between two. Yang and Horton had been circumspect throughout the race, holding plenty in reserve for the final 100m. Dwyer started to fade, and Horton and Yang traded the lead throughout the final 100.
Horton got the best of the last turn, and took full advantage, able to hold onto his lead to beat Yang to the wall.
Yang took home the silver, with Italy’s Gabriele Detti taking home the bronze after Dwyer faded late.
To call it satisfying for Horton would be the ultimate understatement.
After the race, Horton said the rivalry wasn’t between him and Yang, but “between me and athletes who have tested positive.”
Shots fired – but after Yang had attempted to get into his head, you can understand why the words were chosen.
He was referencing Yang’s three-month ban in 2014 for testing positive to trimetazidine, so it’s definitely not without a basis.
Horton also said after that race that he “probably wanted a bit more of a PB.”
That’s ambitious! Not content with gold at all!
Horton will also compete against Yang in the 1500m freestyle later on the final day of the meet, and Day 7 of the Olympics.
GOLD! @_mackhorton wins the 400m free in 3:41.55!
— AUS Olympic Team (@AUSOlympicTeam) August 7, 2016
Well done to Mack Horton, who took home Australia’s first gold medal of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.