Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland delivered Team USA’s first medals of the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday night, taking the gold and silver, respectively, in the 400 individual medley.
Kalisz established a commanding lead during the breaststroke, the third leg of the demanding race. He finished in 4:09.42, eight-tenths of a second ahead of Litherland.
Brendon Smith of Australia took the bronze, becoming the first Australian to medal in the 400 IM since 1984.
After the race, Kalisz said, “It means the world. This is the last thing I really wanted to accomplish in my swimming career. It was something that was a dream of mine for as long as I remember. I can’t believe it. I really can’t believe it.”
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To his parents via video, he added: “I did it, guys. I really did it.”
At the 2016 Rio Games, Kalisz took home the silver in this event, one of many once dominated by Michael Phelps. In the preliminaries, Kalisz had the third-fastest time behind Australia’s Smith and New Zealand’s Lewis Clareburt. Litherland had advanced to the final tied for the fifth-fastest time.
Kalisz will also be in action later this week in the 200 IM.