Heartwarming pre-race footage shows how ready the Australian women’s 4x100m freestyle team was to win the Olympic relay for the third time in a row, crouching for support and even holding hands.
Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell broke a world record en route to winning Australia’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Their time of 3:29.69 minutes was more than three seconds faster than the second-placed Canadian team, ahead of the US, who won bronze.
The Australian girls entered the race as the red-hot favourites, hiding their nerves and looking relaxed in the shunting area just before the race.
The relay swimmers from the other seven countries kept to themselves as they sat or stretched as they waited to call out to the pool deck.
They were very different scenes in the Australian camp, where the girls seemed to be in a good mood, huddled together and chatting happily to each other before holding hands in a circle to pump each other up.
These pre-race footage showed the stark contrast between the Australian women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team’s final minute preparations (right) compared to their rivals
“They look nervous and excited, but this is the most exciting time and they’re spinning,” former Olympic swimming champion Liesel Jones told Channel Seven.
“They are all chatting to each other while all other times are forward.
“So it’s interesting to see the Australians in a bit of a jumble, something we’re really good at.”
Australia broke their previous world record and became the first team to break the 3:30-minute barrier, with McKeon’s blistering third relay race the fifth fastest split in history.
It was relay anchor Cate Campbell’s third gold medal at the event, two days after she led the Australian as one of the country’s flag bearers in the opening ceremony.
It is her sister Bronte’s second gold relay medal in the event, along with McKeon’s, while 19-year-old Harris is an Olympian for the first time.
Australian swimmers Mollie O’Callaghan and Maddie Wilson, who swam in the relay heats on Saturday evening, will also receive medals.
Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris and Cate Campbell embrace after becoming the first women’s 100m freestyle team to break the 3.30 minute barrier
Channel Seven reporter Nathan Templeton paid tribute to the harmony within the relay team after interviewing them after the race.
“Last night there was a fun moment off-camera. Mollie O’Callaghan, the 17-year-old who did an amazing opening leg, looked a little nervous as she walked over to the mic,” he said.
“I saw Bronte Campbell touch her arm and reassure her.
Tonight Meg Harris is wearing hearing aids. She has trouble with earrings. Bronte came up to me just before that and said can you tell us what you’re going to ask Meg because she might not be able to hear you.
“So that’s exactly the idea of the kind of teamwork that fits into that beautiful dream team.
Bronte Campbell, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell won Australia’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics
Both the Australian (right) and second-placed Canadian (left) teams were in high spirits after delivering a powerhouse in the 4x100m freestyle relay
The ecstatic Australian team were captured as they celebrated their win poolside past runner-up Canada who showed no signs of disappointment over silver
A radiant Bronte described the relay victory as an incredible moment for the team.
“It’s unbelievable,” she said.
“It’s been a long time with my team.”
“One of my favorite memories of being part of the Australian team is being part of this particular team. It’s an incredible group of girls.’
Harris added: “There’s no point in it. I walked out last night swimming with Maddie and it was insane.’
“Then it’s even better to get the chance to do it again in the final.”
The women’s swim team dominated the relay from the start and took the lead in the first 100 meters.
They began to distance themselves from their opponents as McKeon entered the water before Cate jumped in and secured the lead by several seconds.
Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon, Cate Campbell and Meg Harris set a new world record after finishing the race in 3:29.69 minutes
A radiant Bronte described it as an incredible moment for the team to win the final
Cate said she couldn’t have asked for a better team for the relay.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these girls,” she said. “It was a tough question for everyone to get here and get away with the win and a world record.”
“You really couldn’t have asked for anything better.”
Cate thanked her family for their continued support and said she couldn’t wait to return home and celebrate the victory with them.
“I hope you all smile as much as we do,” she said. “It’s been quite a journey to get here, but we’re so, so happy. I can’t wait to see you soon.’
The women’s swim team dominated the relay from the start before taking first place by more than three seconds