Ian Thorpe reveals how Kyle Chalmers’ track could have stopped him from winning gold in 100m freestyle
Australian sprint king Kyle Chalmers just missed gold in his 100m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics – with swimming legend Ian Thorpe saying the loss could be attributed to the track he was in.
Chalmers set the sixth fastest time in the semi-finals, putting him in lane seven for the main event.
The defending Olympic champion only breathes to the right when competing in sprint events, which meant Chalmers couldn’t see American Caeleb Dressel in the final 50 meters who went on to take the gold.
“Look, the concern I have for Kyle Chalmers is traditional, he’s breathing on his right hand meaning on the way down he’ll be able to see the rest of the field into Caeleb Dressel…which will help get him out in a faster split in the first 50,” Thorpe said before the race on Thursday.
Australian sprint king Kyle Chalmers has finished second in the 100m freestyle final with American Kyle Dressel taking gold
“He should be out faster than in the semi-finals. If he keeps breathing on his right side, he won’t be able to chase them the way he normally would because he’ll be facing Maxime Grousset in lane eight.”
After Chalmers hit the wall just 0.06 seconds behind Dressell, Thorpe said a lane change may have changed the outcome of the race.
“Nothing he could have done, in the job he was in, could have been better,” he said.
“Had he been on a different job, the outcome might have changed. That’s all that can be said. You can’t change that.’
Chalmers, who won the gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, admitted that placing the track was a challenge.
“It’s a little more challenging to be on the outside. I have to swim my own race from start to finish and breathe the other way on the way home,” he said.
Chalmers said he was re-watching his 100-meter freestyle win at the 2016 Olympics on Thursday morning ahead of the race for inspiration, as he tried to take back-to-back wins.
The 23-year-old from Port Lincoln hit the US world champion with a fingernail for Australia’s second silver medal at the Tokyo Games.
“Obviously winning isn’t everything… but it’s pretty nice,” the defeated swimmer said after the race. “If the games were last year, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I am grateful for the support, my family and friends who have been there from day one. They’ve always been there for me.’
Dressel, 24, was the oldest swimmer in the race, winning gold in an Olympic record time, breaking the record set by Aussie Eamon Sullivan at the 2008 Beijing Games.
Dressel claimed gold 0.06 seconds ahead of Chalmers in the 100m freestyle final
Chalmers, who has said in the past that he only used swimming as “fitness” for AFL, was one of the top men’s medalists in the pool and the anchor leg of the relay teams.
Only Dawn Fraser repeated as 100m champion for Australia, who won her third gold in the 100m freestyle at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Australia starts Thursday’s competition in fifth place on the medal table with seven golds, one silver and nine bronze.
Chalmers was the only Australian to defend an individual title in Tokyo and came out of his semi-final with confidence.
“I’ve always performed at the end of the game,” he said.
The 23-year-old from Port Lincoln hit the fingernail length behind the US world champion for Australia’s second silver medal at the Tokyo Games
Chalmers, who came out of nowhere to win gold as an 18-year-old at the 2016 Rio Olympics, wanted to become the first Aussie to repeat himself as the fastest man in the water.
Dressel, 24, was the oldest swimmer in the race, winning gold in an Olympic record time, breaking the Aussie Eamon Sullivan’s record at the 2008 Beijing Games
Previously, Zac Stubblety-Cook won gold and broke an Olympic record in the men’s 200m breaststroke final at the Tokyo Games – as the Australian swimmers continue to dominate in the pool.
The 22-year-old from Queensland hit the wall in record time at two minutes and 6.38 seconds followed closely behind Dutchman Arno Kamminga and Finnish swimmer Matti Mattsson.
Stubblety-Cook was a favorite to win after taking first place in the semifinals with the fastest time of two minutes, 7.35 seconds.
Since the previous Games in Tokyo in 1964, no Australian had won the final of the 200-meter breaststroke at the Olympic Games.
Speaking after his sensational dive to Channel 7, Stubblety-Cook said he was “lost” while his family and long-term girlfriend Ella Martinkovic cheered him on from home.
“Unbelievable, I wouldn’t be here without their support, but it’s been five tough years and honestly I can’t put it into words,” he said.