Swimming

Yui Ohashi Bags Swimming Gold in Women’s 400 Individual Medley

Japan’s Yui Ohashi has won his first swimming gold medal in this year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the women’s 400-meter individual medley at the Tokyo Olympics that were held on Sunday, which is the host country’s first medal of the games in the sport.

Ohashi, the national record holder in the 200m and 400m IM events who is making her first Olympic appearance, touched the wall first in 4 minutes, 32.08 seconds at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 25: Yui Ohashi of Japan during the 400m individual medley final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Speaking to the Media after the much-deserved win , Ohashi was excited to share this unimagined news, that opens her promising start at the Tokyo Olympics in the swimming category.

“I never thought I could win the gold medal. A lot has happened before reaching this point, but I’m grateful I was given the chance to have this challenge, and many people supported me so I can swim to the best of my ability. I’m really grateful,” she said.

“Managing to get this sort of time when swimming in the morning made me feel the things I’ve been doing (in preparation) were right. It was a really fun race.”

It was the first gold medal in the event for Japan and the first podium finish since the 2000 Games in Sydney when Yasuko Tajima won silver.

Ohashi delivered the country’s second gold medal of the pandemic-delayed Olympics after judoka Naohisa Takato did the same on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Shiga Prefecture native was third after the butterfly leg, second after the backstroke, and built a strong lead with her breaststroke.

Emma Weyant of the United States won silver after chasing Ohashi down in the freestyle leg, but touched 0.68 seconds behind the Japanese. Hali Flickinger of the United States took bronze.

TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 25: Yui Ohashi of Japan celebrates winning the 400m individual medley final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 25, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Standing at 174-centimeters, Ohashi developed her skills under the tutelage of the Japan head coach Norimasa Hirai, who saw great potential in her. But she was a late developer and had to overcome injuries and a blood condition called anemia.

Runner-up in the 200 IM when she made her world championships debut in 2017, Ohashi also came third in the 400 IM at the 2019 worlds.

“I had some anxiety, but I swam well yesterday and I just tried to swim my way, believing in myself,” she said. “Everyone in the (Japan swimming) team supported me so much, many people cheered me up when I was feeling down.”

“It still feels like dream. It was really fun swimming and it was everything I’m swimming for.”

Ohashi can add to her first Olympic medal when she starts her 200 IM campaign on Monday.

Even as the Tokyo Olympics continues Ten more people related to the Tokyo Olympics have tested positive for COVID-19 including two athletes from overseas, bringing the total since the beginning of this month to 132, according to the reports from games organizers.

The total includes six games officials, one contractor, and one media member, they said. One of the athletes, a rower from the Netherlands, and one official were staying at the athletes’ village.

The data go back to July 1 and do not include athletes and staff who tested positive at pre-games training camps in Japan.

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