TOKYO — American dominance in the Olympic pool is an old story at this point, a snowball rolling downhill forever, even if the slope’s pitch varies slightly from year to year.
The United States team’s grinding success continued on Friday, with American swimmers adding two silvers and a bronze to their growing run at the Tokyo Games. The medals widened the American advantage over their rivals in the pool, but fell short of the gold they most wanted, a development in which an American claimed his race was tainted by doping.
Ryan Murphy won a silver in the men’s 200m backstroke and then caused some fireworks at his news conference when he questioned whether his race won by a Russian was drug-free, given Russia’s history of doping in the sport. Was.
“I don’t know if it was 100 percent clean,” Murphy said, “and it’s because of things that have happened in the past.”
Earlier, Lily King and Annie Lazor earned silver and bronze in the women’s 200m breaststroke, which was beaten off the wall by South African, Tatjana Schönemaker, who set a world record in the event and then burst into tears.
The Americans now have a total of 24 swimming medals in the final two days of competition, compared to 14 for their biggest rival, swim-crazy Australia. The United States most likely won’t match its high-water mark of 2016, when the team won 34 medals, 16 of them gold, but it should get within spitting distance of that total.
Three more came in Friday morning’s final.
In the 200m breaststroke, showmaker, racing as favourites, lived up to the expectations, beating King and Lazer and claiming both the world record (2 min 18.95 s), but also the first gold of the Games for South Africa.
Schonmaker, the silver medalist in the 100m event, duly reeled in King in the final, flying off the turn and overtaking King with a relentless kick. He beat Raja against the wall for about a second.
Lazarus, whose father died earlier this year, took the bronze medal by four hundredths of a second. After the race, he and King swam to congratulate Schönemaker, who initially did not feel that he had broken the world record. When she did, she gasped, and Ledger triumphantly raised his opponent’s hand.
In the 200m backstroke, Russia’s Evgeny Rylov won a two-man duel with Murphy of the United States and won in an Olympic record of 1 minute 53.27 seconds. Rylov took control of the race at the second turn, extending his lead to a half-second and nearly half a body ahead of Murphy, the defending Olympic champion in the event.
Rylov won by a second of 0.88, but after the race, Murphy pondered whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Games, given the country’s history of state-sponsored doping. Athletes from Russia are competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee in Tokyo, and all those who were cleared to race had to go through a rigorous clearing process before being allowed to participate.
Still, Murphy directly questioned whether his race was free of doping. They took care not to accuse Rylov, who sat four feet to his left, of fraud directly, but to refer more generally to Russia’s doping history.
Rylov opted not to address Murphy’s comments, saying only that he was a supporter of clean sports and had followed all procedures required to swim in the Olympics. Murphy then clarified that he was not making direct allegations, but did not back down from his statements.
“I believe there is doping in swimming,” he said. “It is what it is.”
Earlier, Australia had their chance to shine in the 100 freestyle final. With Kate Campbell and Emma McCain swimming next to each other in lanes 3 and 4, and their green-and-yellow-clad teammates and coaches packing a portion of the empty field, the race quickly turned into an Australian celebration. changed into
McCon won easily, setting an Olympic record of 51.96 seconds and becoming only the second woman to break 52 seconds in the event. She finished more than a quarter faster than Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey. Campbell won the bronze medal, just ahead of Canada’s Penny Oleksiak.
The final final of the morning was the men’s 200 m individual medley, which gave the Americans a chance for another medal in the form of Michael Andrew.
Andrew, 22, turned professional at age 14 and was home-schooled, to maximize his training opportunities, and was right on pace for the first three-quarters of the race.
He took the lead after butterfly leg, passed the lead to Shun Wang of China on the backstroke leg, then regained it by the end of the breaststroke. But Andrew appeared to be running out of gas as he exited the final turn, and Wang proved too much, overtaking him from the water-mouthing freestyle leg. Britain’s Duncan Scott, who won the silver medal, and Jeremy Desplanch of Switzerland, who won the bronze medal, did the same. Andrew finished fifth behind Daiya Seto of Japan.
Andrew said he missed the crowd roar he experienced in US tests last month, a hoarseness he said had driven him through the final push. However, their meeting is not over. He has another chance to win a medal on Sunday, when he is expected to swim in both the individual final and relay.
“I’ve got 50 more relays, and I’m feeling faster,” Andrew said.
King also predicted that more American medals were to come. She said ahead of the Games that America had a chance to sweep the women’s individual swim race, and on Friday she spoke in a positive tone of the team’s performance so far, which includes double-medalists in multiple events.
Australia will not be able to catch up to the US in total medals, but the country has already achieved a major improvement in 2016, when it won only three gold medals and 10 overall. McCain’s gold was Australia’s sixth in the swimming in Tokyo – the same number won by American swimmers – and the weekend holds the promise of more for both countries.
McCon said Australian women have raised the standard for each other while helping them improve. “We’ve found so many girls picking each other up and running month after month,” she said. “It’s really helped us.”