Australian Zac Stubblety-Cook has smashed out a gold medal for the nation and broken an Olympic record in the process.
Stubblety-Cook dived off at lane 4 in the men’s 200-metre breaststroke final, hanging behind for the first 50 metres but working his way up from fifth place.
The 22-year-old turned in fourth spot at the halfway stage and was third with 50 metres to swim.
The Australian then produced a stunning last lap to win in two minutes 06.38 seconds from Arno Kamminga (2:07.01) of the Netherlands and Finland’s Matti Mattson (2:07.13)
“Unbelievable. I’m lost for words,” Stubblety-Cook told Channel 7 after the win.
Asked about his slow start, building up to third place, ploughing through to second and pulling into first at the last moment, he laughed.
“Made it entertaining right?” he said.
He explained that was the way he trained and he wasn’t going to change his process at the Olympics, saying he was just “happy the process pulled off.”
It marked the fifth gold medal for the Australian swim team in Tokyo and the seventh gold medal for Aussies overall at the Tokyo Games.
Making his Olympic debut, the New South Welshman entered the medal race as favourite – he was fastest qualifier and also held the world’s quickest time in the event this year.
The famous gold medal followed Brisbane local Jack McLoughlin’s fifth placing in the 800-metre men’s freestyle final on Thursday morning.
Jumping off the blocks at lane 7, the 26-year-old worked hard but just couldn’t replicate the shining silver medal won in the 400-metre freestyle.
Tokyo was the first time the 800-metre event has been contested at Olympic level, with the final launching a massive day for Australians vying for gold in the pool.
All eyes will no doubt be on swimmer Kyle Chalmers when he defends his 100-metre freestyle title at 12.37pm on Thursday, seeking a slice of Australian Olympic history in Tokyo.
Chalmers was sixth-fastest qualifier for Thursday’s final as he aims to extend Australia’s buoyant mood.
He has the chance to become the first Australian to win two Olympic gold medals in the men’s event.
Dawn Fraser won her third 100-metre freestyle gold at the 1964 Tokyo Games.
Australia began Thursday’s competition in fifth spot on the medal table with six gold, one silver and nine bronze.
Chalmers is the only Australian defending an individual title in Tokyo and emerged from his semi-final with confidence.
“I’ve always delivered at the end of the competition,” Chalmers said after the semi-final.
Chalmers’ teammate Zac Stubblety-Cook (200-metre breaststroke) and the women’s 4×200-metre freestyle relay combination also carry gold medal hopes on Thursday.
Emma McKeon set the tone for her 100-metre freestyle rivals by breaking an Olympic record in the heats on Wednesday night.
“An Olympic record is pretty cool. But I guess I had yesterday off and this morning off, so I think it freshened me up a bit,” McKeon told Channel 7 afterwards.
McKeon, alongside two-time gold medallist Ariarne Titmus, will join the women’s 4×200-metre freestyle relay final on Thursday, after both were spared a swim in Wednesday’s heat.
Titmus stunned on Wednesday, bringing home her second gold medal and topping off Australia’s equal best single day, after the men’s and women’s rowing teams won gold in the coxless fours within minutes of each other.
Other Aussie hopefuls on day six
Ash Barty and John Peers are the last Australian hopes in tennis, with the mixed doubles pair to face Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the quarter-finals.
The women’s rugby sevens team start their Olympic gold medal defence on Thursday, with games against the host nation and China.
Australia have bullied Japan to send a statement across the Tasman in a 48-0 win to begin their Olympic rugby sevens title defence in Tokyo.
Australia next faces China later on Thursday, who lost their opening pool game to USA 28-14.
K1 canoe bronze medallist Jessica Fox has qualified fifth-fastest in new women’s event the C1 ahead of Thursday’s semi-finals and medal races, while Lucian Delfour is third going into the business end of the men’s K1.
The unbeaten Hockeyroos can strengthen their hold of top spot in Group B when they play second-placed New Zealand in women’s hockey.
Saya Sakakibara has finished 6th in her heat, but lacked nothing for inspiration when she rode in the opening rounds of BMX racing.
Her brother Kai was on the way to qualifying for Tokyo in the same sport when he crashed heavily in a race and was put into a coma with traumatic head injuries.
Kai is back on his bike after 18 months of rehabilitation, and while he can’t participate he is in Tokyo to cheer on his sister after a remarkable recovery.
Lauren Reynolds finished 3rd in the heat, with Anthony Dean also to compete in the BMX racing.