Tokyo Olympics: Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui stuns the rest of the field and wins gold in the men’s 400m freestyle
Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui stunned the rest of the field to win gold in the men’s 400m freestyle as the 18-year-old – who was the EIGHTH fastest in his heat – produced a priceless reaction after winning 0.16 seconds – not realizing he finished first!
- There was a big shock at the Aquatics center for the men’s 400m freestyle
- Tunisian teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui stunned the field and won by 0.16 seconds
- At first he hadn’t realized that he was the first to touch the wall to win Olympic gold
Tunisian teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui caused a stir in the pool with a shocking victory in the 400m freestyle – insisting his incredible improvement was simply due to ‘hard work’.
The unannounced 18-year-old had a record time of just 3 minutes and 49.9 seconds at the start of the year and had just finished the fastest eighth on Sunday.
However, Hafnaoui stunned the rest of the field from lane eight to take gold with a huge new personal best of 3:43.36 – a time also 2.32 seconds faster than his heat the night before.
Tunisian teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui enjoyed wild parties after winning 400m freestyle
The ill-mannered teen, who was eighth in the heats, stunned the field to claim the gold
Hafnaoui celebrated lavishly after discovering that he had touched the house by 0.16 seconds for Australian Jack McLoughlin, with American Kieran Smith in third.
And when asked how he could explain such a remarkable rise from eighth place in the Youth Olympics three years ago, he replied: “I just worked hard with my coach, that’s all.”
Hafnaoui is only the second Tunisian to win an Olympic swimming medal after Oussama Mellouli, who served a doping ban before returning to win gold in the 1500m freestyle and 10km marathon in Beijing 2008.
Initially Hafnaoui hadn’t realized he finished first and won gold by just 0.16 seconds
“I have a great relationship with him,” Hafnaoui admitted of Mellouli, who also participates in the marathon swimming in Tokyo. “He’s a legend. I would like to be like him one day.’
Hafnaoui said he even shocked himself with his win – adding: “Of course I surprised myself. It is unbelievable. I didn’t believe it until I touched the wall and saw my face first.’
The magnanimous silver medalist McLoughlin said, “It’s the Olympics and anything can happen. Ahmed coming out and doing a huge PB is amazing and an honor to him.”
There has been talk in swimming circles about how the pandemic has caused drug testing around the world to be scaled back.
But McLoughlin added: “At home we have undergone rigorous testing, just like normal. Since we’ve been here, we’ve had so many tests and the Japanese have done a really good job of testing drugs on everyone. So I don’t think there’s anything to say about it.’
Kieran Smith of the USA took bronze (far right) while Australian Jack McLoughlin (left) took silver