Surprise star poised to ignite Aussie medal rush

2 months ago 17
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Surprise packet Brendon Smith has emerged as a huge chance to secure Australia's first medal at the Tokyo Olympics after smashing his own national record to qualify fastest for Sunday's 400m individual medley final.

Smith, the little-known Victorian, swam a sizzling 4.09.27s to set the pace ahead of New Zealand's Lewis Clareburt (4:09.49s) and USA's Chase Kalisz 4:09.65s.

The final is scheduled for 11.30am AEST.

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Australia's Brendon Smith fist bumps USA's Jay Litherland after his sizzling heat swim. (Getty)

"I want to go faster every time I swim, so really happy with that and to be first ranked going into the final is really surreal," Smith said.

"It felt fast, but to go 4:09.2 is probably faster than I thought it was."

Asked if he could go faster, the 21-year-old replied: "We'll see."

Daiya Seto of Japan after his heat swim in the 400m individual medley. (Getty)

Smith's heat featured gold medal favourite and local hero Daiya Seto, who sensationally bombed out of the final by 0.32s.

Incredibly, the three-time world champion later claimed he was cruising but got his calculations wrong.

"Even in the last hundred, I didn't let it all out," Seto said through a translator.

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"Even when the other swimmers were coming near me... five years ago, I went too fast in the prelims and couldn't go fast enough in the finals. I tried to avoid that."

Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe described the curveball as a "huge boilover."

Smith's final on Sunday will be followed up by the men's 400m freestyle final (11.52am AEST), featuring Australians Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin.

Winnington and McLoughlin shared a dead heat. (Getty)

The pair finished in a dead heat in 3:45.20s, which placed them equal fourth fastest.

Henning Muhlleitner of Germany qualified fastest in 3:43.67s.

McLoughlin admitted the heat swim didn't quite go to plan.

"I thought 3:44 would be where we'd need to be."

Mollie O'Callaghan, Meg Harris, Madison Wilson and Bronte Campbell of Australia. (Getty)

But everything went to script for Australia's crack women's 4x100 freestyle relay team.

Despite missing their two fastest sprinters - Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell - the team of Mollie O'Callaghan, Meg Harris, Madison Wilson and Bronte Campbell - set the fastest time with 3:31.73s.

The USA team of Olivia Smoliga, Catie DeLoof, Allison Schmitt and Natalie Hinds advanced in fifth.

The final is scheduled for 12.45pm AEST on Sunday, with the Aussies the hottest of favourites.

- With AP

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