Australia have a new golden girl after teenage sensation Mollie O’Callaghan blitzed the field in a stunning run at the World Championships.
18-year-old Australian Mollie O’Callaghan overcame ‘panic’ to edge out world record holder Sarah Sjostrom to become the youngest 100m freestyle world champion in over 30 years.
Zac Stubblety-Cook took the men’s 200m breaststroke to make it a golden day for Australia with O’Callaghan, who established himself as a true superstar on the world stage at this year’s World Championships in Budapest.
Stream over 50 sports live and on demand with Kayo. New to Kayo? Try free for 14 days >
The teenager, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in the relay, edged Sweden’s Sjostrom, 28, by 0.13 seconds in the 100m freestyle final as American Torri Huske won bronze.
O’Callaghan finished sixth at the turn, but just like she did in her steamy semi-final, pressed the gas on the second lap and stormed home in the final 10 yards to touch the wall first, after watching a stage like she might completely miss a medal.
At 18 years and 82 days, O’Callaghan became the youngest 100m freestyle winner since 1991, when Nicole Haislett of the United States won the title at 18 years and 22 days.
“It was bad, the worst ever,” she said of the pre-race nerves she suffered. “I was freaking out in bed, I had a little cramp in my leg, I just felt dizzy, I felt bad, I was starting to panic, but I knew I had my teammates there… I guess that kind of raised me for the race.
“It’s certainly weird right now to think that I’m a world champion.
“I’m so proud of it, it’s all about experience for me and I didn’t expect it at all.”
It was O’Callaghan’s second gold medal in the competition after Australia’s victory in the 4x100m freestyle relay, and she now has four medals in total to go along with the silver medals in the 4x200m freestyle relay. freestyle and 200m individual freestyle.
It was Sjostrom’s 16th medal at the World Championships, but despite having eight golds, she never won the 100 freestyle. It was his fourth silver medal.
She also has world championship and Olympic bronze medals in the race.
Stubblety-Cook, who became a national cult hero by winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics last year, rode an extraordinary race, coming from last after the first 100m to win the men’s 200m breaststroke.
The 23-year-old raced through the third 50m to move up to third and kept his rage going on the final lap.
Dutchman Caspar Corbeau started at a world record pace but faded and Stubblety-Cook, Yu Hanaguruma and Erik Persson, who had conserved their energy at the back, came out on top.
The Australian won in 2:07.07, 1.31sec ahead of the Japanese star and the Swede who tied for silver.
There was more joy for Australia when the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay team won silver behind America as Great Britain took bronze.
Meanwhile, Lilly King added to its collection of gold medals when it won the women’s 200m breaststroke while another American veteran Ryan Murphy won the men’s 200m backstroke.
American star King had dominated the 50m and 100m breaststroke at the last two world championships and also won gold at the 2016 Olympics in the 100m breaststroke.
After missing out on a medal in the 100m breaststroke on Tuesday, her college coach, Ray Looze, told US media she was running at “80 per cent”.
On Thursday, she came back from fifth place to claim victory in 2min 22.41sec. Australian Jenna Strauch was second at 0.63 and American Kate Douglass third.
“It’s really nice to be able to complete the series, I guess I’m a long distance swimmer now,” King said after her first gold in the longest breaststroke.
King said the setback earlier in the competition motivated her. “Every time I swim badly I feel like I have a lot of haters, so just proving them wrong is fine,” she said.
Murphy ended a long streak of duller medals by winning the men’s 200 backstroke.
Since winning two individual Olympic gold medals in Rio 2016, the American has collected six silver and two bronze medals at the Olympics and World Championships, including a silver in the 100m backstroke in Budapest.
The 26-year-old won in 1:54.52, 0.64sec ahead of Briton Luke Greenbank with another American, Shaine Casas third.
“It was far from a perfect race, but I pulled it off,” Murphy said.
Kristof Milak, the Hungarian who said after winning the 200m butterfly that the Duna “is my swimming pool”, strode into the 100m butterfly semi-finals like a lord walking in his domain.
Milak struggled to catch US Olympic and world champion Caeleb Dressel in the 100m butterfly. As the American headed home early, the Hungarian star justified his aura of confidence by comfortably swimming the best time.
He finished in 50.14 seconds, 0.67 seconds faster than Japan’s Naoki Mizunuma. In the 50m, another event dominated by Dressel in recent seasons, Briton Benjamin Proud was the fastest in the semi-finals.
The American men ended the evening by winning the 200m relay.
Originally published as Australian teenager Mollie O’Callaghan wins gold and stuns the world with a 30-year-old first