Japan and Tunisia celebrated shock gold medals on a day of upsets in the Olympic swimming pool on Sunday.
On the second full day of Olympic competition, the Tokyo Aquatic Center took centre stage for one of the blue riband sports of the Games with four gold medals up for grabs in a morning finals session.
But while swimming superpowers Australia and the USA traditionally dominate the Olympic pool, it was Tunisian teenager Ahmed Hafnaoui and Japan’s Yui Ohashi who made the biggest waves.
Hafnaoui, 18, had only qualified eighth-fastest for the 400m freestyle final but produced a devastating late burst to win in 3min 43.36sec, overhauling Australian Jack McLoughlin, who took silver in 3:43.52.
“I just can’t believe that, it’s amazing,” Hafnaoui said. “I felt better in the water this morning than yesterday and that’s it. I’m the Olympic champion now.”
Japan’s Yui Ohashi whose previous best performance on the world stage was a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships, touched in 4:32.08 ahead of US duo Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger
It was Tunisia’s first ever Olympic medal in the event and just their third gold ever in swimming.
The upsets continued in the women’s 400 medley when Japan’s Ohashi delighted the host nation to topple defending champion Katinka Hosszu.
Ohashi – whose previous best performance on the world stage was a silver medal at the 2017 World Championships – touched in 4:32.08 ahead of US duo Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger.
“I swam believing in myself. I really did not think of winning the gold,” said Ohashi.
The other early medals were split between the US and Australia.
Chase Kalisz, a silver medallist in Rio five years ago, went one better to claim the first US swimming gold of the Games with victory in the 400m medley.
Meanwhile Australia’s dominant women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team of Cate Campbell, Emma McKeon, Meg Harris and Bronte Campbell smashed their own world record with victory in 3:29.69.