Silver for Aussie but 400m superstar crashes

2 months ago 17
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Australia's Jack McLoughlin has won silver in the 400m freestyle final at the Tokyo Olympics, while superstar compatriot Elijah Winnington failed to place.

McLoughlin led for much of the race but was overhauled by Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui, an 18-year-old swimming in lane one. The winner clocked 3:43.36, with McLoughlin .16 behind. USA's Kieran Smith was third.

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Ahmed Hafnaoui after winning Olympic gold in the 400m freestlye. (Getty)

Winnington was seventh, despite being a favourite for the event. It was his first major final and he said afterwards that he was "disappointed" with the swim, having clocked 3:45.20; nearly two seconds behind the winner.

Winnington's PB of 3:42.65 would have won gold but he was unable to produce his best on the big stage, never threatening the lead.

"It's tough," Winnington, 21, said on pool deck afterwards.

"It's my first international final, so obviously a little bit disappointed but that's sport. You've got to get over it and I'll be back stronger."

Winnington skipped media in the mixed zone after the race, visibly upset with his swim, reporters at the pool said.

Elijah Winnington of Australia. (Getty)

McLoughlin, in lane two, nearly emulated Aussie icon Ian Thorpe, champion at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004, in winning the event. His Australian Olympic trials time of 3:43.27 would have won gold.

The 26-year-old was happy with his effort to finish second, having been under world record pace at the 250m mark and the leader at the final turn. He nearly quit swimming when COVID-19 postponed the Olympics by a year but is now a medallist, having had a red-hot crack and led the race until the very end.

Jack McLoughlin (Getty)

"Second in the Olympics is pretty good," McLoughlin said on pool deck, before thanking his family at home.

"They're the world to me. Everyone says swimming's an individual sport but it's not."

McLoughlin is also swimming the 800m and the 1500m. Winnington has to back-up in the 200m freestyle heats on Sunday night.

Winnington and McLoughlin had aimed to emulate Thorpe and Grant Hackett at Athens 2004 with an Aussie quinella in the 400m but it was not to be.

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