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Emma McKeon seals seventh Olympic medal as Australian women win 4x100m medley

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

Australia’s medal-winning consistency has continued at the pool on the final day of the Olympic swim meet, with Emma McKeon adding individual and relay gold medals to the nation’s tally on Sunday. McKeon’s success in the women’s 50m freestyle and as part of the women’s 4x100m medley relay lift Australia’s overall gold medal haul at the pool to nine.

Related: USA’s Caeleb Dressel wins fourth gold of Olympics with victory in 50m freestyle

McKeon’s golds – adding to the two gold medals and three bronze medals she has already won at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre – makes her the most successful Australian Olympian at a single Games. She is now only the second woman in history to win seven medals in a single Olympics, following on from Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovskaya who achieved the feat in 1952.

Wollongong-born McKeon had shown ominous form in qualifying for the 50m final. McKeon broke the Olympic record in her heat on Friday, with a time of 24.02 seconds, before breaking it again in the semi-final on Saturday, touching home in 24 seconds flat.

She then broke the Olympic record again in the final, racing to the wall in a time of 23.81. McKeon was the only finalist to break the 24-second barrier, followed in by world record holder Sarah Sjöström and Denmark’s Pernille Blume. Australia’s Cate Campbell finished seventh.

In the women’s 4x100m medley relay, dual individual gold medallist Kaylee McKeown led Australia off in the backstroke. A strong second lap from the 20-year-old saw her touch second at the first change, just behind Canada. Chelsea Hodges managed to stay with American prodigy Lydia Jacoby in the breaststroke leg, before McKeon put down a huge butterfly leg to leave Australia neck and neck with the Americans at the final change. Cate Campbell saw off Abbey Weitzeil in the final two laps, with the Australians breaking the Olympic record.

“Where do you even start with that?” said an elated Campbell, a four-Olympics veteran, following the relay success. “Full credit to the incredible job that all the Australians have done this week. I’m so so proud to be a member of this team. It’s still sinking in – I just can’t believe we went out and did that.”

Campbell won the silver medal in Rio in the same race, when the Americans beat home Australia to gold. “It’s a little bit more special to be able to get a win from behind over the Americans,” she said. “I’ve been in some incredibly close battles with them over the years, where they’ve got me. To do it on the world’s biggest stage is a dream come true.”

Australia ends the week of medal action at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre second in the swimming medal tally, with nine gold medals to the USA’s 11. Australian swimmers also won three silvers and eight bronze medals. The Dolphins’ nine gold medals makes Tokyo 2020 the most successful swimming campaign in Australia’s Olympic history.

In the final race of the Tokyo 2020 swim meet, the Australian men’s relay team finished fifth in the 4x100m medley relay, won by the Americans in a new world record. A valiant final leg from Kyle Chalmers was not enough to claw the Dolphins onto the podium. It is the only relay of the seven at these Olympics where the Australians have not secured a medal.

In the first race of the morning, American Caeleb Dressel continued his red-hot Olympic swim meet, breaking the Olympic record to win the men’s 50m freestyle. Dressel had already secured individual gold medals in the 100m butterfly and 100m freestyle, and was part of the successful men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team for the United States.

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