Olympic Games | The Guardian
Kyle Chalmers challenges his rivals not to collapse under pressure as he defends his Olympic 100m freestyle title in Tokyo.
Chalmers secured the chance to become the first Australian in a row to win Olympic gold medals in the Blue Riband event on Tuesday evening.
The reigning champion triumphed in Australia’s Olympic selection process in a quick 47.59 seconds – just 0.01 seconds slower than his golden swim at the 2016 Rio Games.
And Chalmers is challenging his rivals like American Caleb Dressel, British Duncan Scott and Russian Kliment Kolesnikov to turn up the heat in the Tokyo Olympic spotlight.
“That’s what excites me the most, I want to be part of one of the greatest races in history,” said Chalmers. “I know there are a lot of people who swim fast right now – obviously it’s a little easier to swim fast on exams and so on.
“You have to do it when the pressure is on and when it matters most. So it will be interesting to see how fast we can go in five weeks. “
The 22-year-old warned his rivals that he was a vastly improved swimmer who triumphed in 2016.
“My skills have evolved widely, especially from Rio to today, but they will continue to develop as the season progresses,” he said, predicting further technical advancement at a camp prior to the Townsville Games.
“I’m lucky to have my skills coach coming to Townsville with me, so I’ll be doing 10 days of intense skills while I’m up there. And then it’s up to me to make a good turn and a good dive when it counts. “
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Earlier in the day, Zac Stubblety-Cook set a Commonwealth record in the 200m chest while his rival Matt Wilson’s Olympic heartbreak continued. Runner-up Wilson finished 0.24 seconds outside the time allotted by Swimming Australia.
Wilson’s dejection echoes 2016 when he won exams but was 0.26 seconds behind the qualifying mark to miss the Rio team.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking to see that,” Stubblety-Cook said of his rival. “It’s just the nature of sport. It’s hard, there is no other word for it. “
Wilson also lost his Commonwealth record to Stubblety-Cook, whose time of two minutes, 06.28 seconds, was the second fastest ever and was just 0.16 seconds behind the Russian Anton Chupkov’s world record.
In the women’s 200m butterfly race, winner Brianna Throssell booked her place for the Tokyo team, as did Madeleine Gough and Kiah Melverton in the new Olympic discipline, the women’s 1,500m freestyle.