Young Australian swimmer Kyle Chalmers became an instant Aussie houshold name on Thursday (Australian time) when he came from behind to claim the Olympic gold medal in the Men’s 100m Freestyle in Rio.
At only 18 years of age and just at the start of his international swimming career, he wasnt expected to win the race; he wasn’t even expected to be the fastest Australian in the race. But there he was, spectacularly touch the wall to snatch the the ultimate prize from his more fancied rivals.
It was one of those rare moments we hope for at an Olympics, when someone unexpectedly announces themselves to the world on the biggest stage of all.
Chalmers is the first Australian to win the blue riband 100 Free at the Olympics since Michale Wenden in 1968. Some came close, including a silver to James Magnussen in 2012 and a bronze to the great Ian Thorpe in 2004.
Now, Kyle Chalmers is the king.
Asked after the race about the history of his achievement, he said: “I actually had no idea about that to be honest. I’m someone that probably doesn’t follow swimming too much. I kind of stay away and follow basketball and soccer and football.”
In his dramatic win, he notched up a personal best time of 47.58 seconds, followed by Belgian Pieter Timmers (47.80) for silver and the USA’s defending champion Nathan Adrian (47.85) for the bronze.
At the start of the race, Australia’s medal hopes were actually pinned on Cameron McEvoy who came in a disappointing seventh (48.12).
We are sure to be seeing a lot more of the self described South Australian ‘country boy’, and now Olympic champion, a lot more in the years to come.