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
- Start Lists & Results
Men’s 100 Backstroke
- World Record: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.85 (2016)
- Olympic Record: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.85 (2016)
- World Junior Record: Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS) – 52.53 (2018)
- 2016 Olympic Champion: Ryan Murphy (USA) – 51.97
USA’s Ryan Murphy, the World Record holder and defending Olympic champion in the 100 back, has the opportunity to up America’s win streak in this event to seven consecutive Olympic golds.
Americans have won the event the past six Olympic Games:
- 2016 – Murphy
- 2012 – Matt Grevers
- 2004, 2008 – Aaron Peirsol
- 2000 – Lenny Krayzelburg
- 1996 – Jeff Rouse
Murphy’s record stands at 51.85 from the Rio Olympics and his fastest time since then was a 51.94 from the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships.
We’ve seen this world record fall pretty often at the Olympic Games: 11 times. And there are a few competitors within striking distance of it this time around.
2016 Olympic silver medalist Xu Jiayu of China holds the fastest time since the Rio Olympics, though, with a 51.86 from 2017.
Jiayu outswam bronze medalist David Plummer in 2016 by taking out the first 50 meters faster than nearly everyone in the race besides Australia’s Mitch Larkin. Jiayu and Plummer had the exact same second 50 split.
25-year-old Jiayu won gold at the 2019 World Championships (52.43) where Rylov placed 2nd (52.67), Larkin placed 3rd (52.77), Murphy took 4th place (52.78).
Jiayu also has the advantage over other athletes who are not from Asia because he will be competing in a closer time zone to what he trains in. Beijing, China is only an hour behind Tokyo’s time zone.
Murphy has been more consistent than Kolesnikov and Rylov, lately though.
At the 2021 European Championships, Kolesnikov blasted a 52.32 in prelims to earn the top spot in the semifinals, but he finished 16th there (54.86). Rylov finished 8th (53.51) after posting 53 low’s in semi’s and prelims.
Both Murphy and Hunter Armstrong swam 52 mid / 52 low in the semifinals and finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials in June. In the semifinals, Murphy posted a season-best time of 52.22 and Armstrong dropped down to 52.48 in finals.
Romania’s Robert Glinta and Greece’s Apostolos Christou were also more consistent at the European Championships. Glinta won the event (52.88) and Apostolos maintained high 52’s for semifinals and finals to place 3rd.
Glinta made it to the final in this event at the Rio Olympics where he placed 8th.
Larkin is walking into Tokyo with the most experience. This will be the 28-year-old’s 3rd Olympic Games and he placed 4th at the Rio Olympics by .03 behind bronze medalist Plummer in this event. He outsplit everyone on the first 50 meters (25.18) but didn’t have the same finishing speed.
Larkin then won silver in the 200 back behind Murphy. He still stands a better chance of medaling in the 200 back in Tokyo, but he will be in medal contention here too.
Italian 20-year-old Thomas Ceccon is ranked 9th in the world this season with the lifetime best 52.84 he swam in December. He has a solid chance of making the final, but he will have to fend off the likes of French 19-year-old Mewen Tomac who beat him by .02 at the 2021 European Championships with a 53.00.
Italian National Record holder Ceccon won the 100 back at the recent Sette Colli Trophy (53.84), but was a ways off his best time.
There are a few historic things on the line in Tokyo besides the Americans’ win streak.
Four men have won gold twice in this event and no one has surpassed two gold medals. Murphy stands to join the likes of Warren Paoa Kealoha, David Theile, Roland Matthes, and Peirsol if he wins his 2nd gold medal.
Only Matthes has ever made three Olympic finals in this event and 2012 bronze medalist Ryosuke Irie of Japan has a chance to make his third final. Irie placed 6th at 2019 World Champs (53.22) but has not broken 53.00 yet this season.
He swam a 53.00 in June to rank himself 17th in the world this season, although his fastest time since Rio was a 52.53 from 2018.
Top Times in 2020-2021 Season (embed)
Top Times in 2020-2021 Season
Top Performances in 2016-2021 Olympic Cycle (1 Per Person)
- Xu Jiayu, CHN – 51.86 (2017)
- Ryan Murphy, USA – 51.94 (2018)
- Evgeny Rylov, RUS – 52.12 (2021)
- Kliment Kolesnikov, RUS – 52.13 (2021)
- Matt Grevers, USA – 52.26 (2017)
- Mitch Larkin, AUS – 52.38 (2019)
- Hunter Armstrong, USA – 52.48 (2021)
- Ryosuke Irie. JPN – 52.53 (2018)
- Shaine Casas, USA – 52.72 (2019)
- Christou Apostolos, GRE – 52.77 (2021)
Top 8 Predictions
|Place||Swimmer||Country||Best Time Since 2016 Olympics|
Dark Horse: Hugo González de Oliveira (ESP) – 2016 Olympian Gonzalez de Oliveira won 2nd place at the 2021 European Championships in the 100 back with a time of 52.90.
He beat Apostolos, Tomac, Ceccon and Rylov and this was his first time under 53.00.
Gonzalez de Oliveira placed 20th in this event at the Rio Olympics but his recent 52.90 ranks him 14th in the world this season and puts him in contention to snag a spot in the Olympic final if he lowers it further.