Rylov takes Olympic backstroke gold to end American streak

By: AFP      Published: 12:38 PM, 27 Jul, 2021
Rylov takes Olympic backstroke gold to end American streak
Russia's Evgeny Rylov celebrates after winning the final of the men's 100m backstroke swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo. AFP

Evgeny Rylov led a Russian one-two to win the men's 100m Olympic backstroke gold medal in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The 24-year-old hit the wall in 51.98sec to edge team-mate Kliment Kolesnikov, who touched in 52.00, ahead of American defending champion Ryan Murphy in 52.19.

Murphy was bidding to make it seven consecutive Olympic gold medals in the event for the United States.

It is the first time since the Moscow Games in 1980 that an American has failed to win either gold or silver in the 100m backstroke.

Rylov's superb showing set a new Russian record and he was not far off Murphy’s world record time of 51.85.

He adds an Olympic gold to the bronze he claimed in Rio and two world championship golds in 2017 and 2019, all won in the 200m backstroke.  

Kolesnikov was making his Olympic debut at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre and fully vindicated his placing as the number two seed, with only his compatriot ranked ahead of him.

The 21-year-old, who won bronze at the 2019 world championships in 50m backstroke, is widely considered to be the up and coming star of Russian swimming.

It might have been even better for the youngster after he stormed into an early lead, with Rylov and Murphy in hot pursuit.

Murphy posted the fastest final 50m but had left himself too much to do, with Rylov powering home to secure victory.

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