2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
- Full aquatics schedule
- SwimSwam Event Previews
- Entry Lists
- Live Results
- Day 3 Finals Heat Sheet
Russia has long been a powerful force in swimming, landing numerous medals at major international meets in recent years, including three golds at the 2019 World Championships. But it’s been a long time since the nation won an Olympic gold medal.
Open water swimmer Larisa Ilchenko won the inaugural women’s 10km marathon event in 2008, but in the pool, Russia’s gold medal drought reached a quarter century when the Tokyo Games were postponed by one year, with the last Russian champion being crowned in 1996.
That all changed on Tuesday morning in Tokyo, as Russian Evgeny Rylov claimed gold in the men’s 100 backstroke, resetting the European Record in the process with a blistering time of 51.98.
It was actually a 1-2 finish for Russia, who are competing under the “ROC” banner due to being in the midst of serving a four-year doping ban, as Kliment Kolesnikov won the silver in 52.00.
Back in 1996, legendary sprinter Alexander Popov won a pair of gold medals in the men’s 50 and 100 freestyle, and Denis Pankratov had a sweep of his own in the men’s 100 and 200 butterfly. But after that, 25 years passed before Rylov got them back on top of the podium.
In setting some Russian history, Rylov also put a halt to a legendary American streak, as the U.S. had won six consecutive Olympic titles in the men’s 100 backstroke coming into these Games.
This is only the 5th time in Olympic history that the US has been shut out of gold or silver in the 100 back at the Olympics: 1908, 1932, 1956, 1980 (boycott), and now 2021.
Defending champion Ryan Murphy was in the hunt for a repeat, but couldn’t match the early speed from the Russians and ended up with the bronze in 52.19.
Murphy is also the defending champion in the 200 back, where the Americans have also won six straight golds. Rylov, the reigning two-time world champion in that event, will now aim to sweep the backstrokes like Murphy did in Rio and put a definitive end to the U.S. dominance in Olympic backstroke.