Swimming in lane 8 of the men’s 200m breaststroke final, Dmitriy Balandin wrote another chapter in the Games history. Winning the race in 2:07.46, the 21-year-old got the first medal-ever for Kazakhstan in Olympic swimming. Balandin did a brilliant race, saving his energy for an epic final. Almost in the other extreme of the pool, in lane 3, US Josh Prenot also made an additional effort to arrive first, but had to content with the silver in 2:07.53. The bronze went to Russia’s Anton Chupkov in 2:07.70.
The first initiative in the race came from Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki, who departed very fast and was even under World Record pace at the 100m-mark. This speed didn’t pay off and the Japanese star could not end his effort in the same strong way, ending up in fifth (2:07.80). Ippei Watanabe (JPN), the fastest qualifier and owner of the Olympic record in the semis (2:07.22) was only sixth in 2:07.87. Finally, in the absence of 2012 Olympic champion Daniel Gyurta (HUN), not qualified in the prelims, the 2015 world champion Marco Koch (GER) could not prevail as well, touching in seventh (2:08.00).
In the second final of the day, Mireia Belmonte (ESP) got her first Olympic gold in the 200m butterfly, touching home in 2:04.85. The Iberian athlete (runner-up in London 2012) did a very intelligent race, saving the best for the final metres. Madeline Groves (AUS), the fastest of the semis, got the silver in 2:04.88, while the bronze (like four years ago) was reserved to the 2015 world champion Natsumi Hoshi (JPN) in 2:05.20.
In the prestigious men’s 100m free, Canada’s Santo Condorelli departed like a bullet and was first at half way, but in lane 5 Kyle Chalmers, from Australia, also swam fast for the victory in 47.58. The 18-year-old is participating in his first Olympics and already assured a place among the distinguished winners of this event – in recent times, Alex Popov (RUS) and Pieter van den Hoogenband (NED) were the only swimmers with two victories in this event. The silver went to a surprising Pieter Timmers from Belgium, in a time of 47.80, while the 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian had to content with bronze in 47.85. The 2015 world silver medallist and second Australian of the final, Cameron McEvoy concluded in seventh (48.12).
It was necessary to wait for Katie Ledecky in the last leg of the US relay to finally understand that the gold medal in the women’s 4x200m was meant for the North Americans. Swimming in a very fast 1:53.74, the 19-year-old touched the wall in an overall time of 7:43.03. It was the fourth medal for Ledecky at these Games, after the 200m and 400m free titles and the silver in the 4x100m free relay. The US great is also favourite in the 800m free, and will certainly be one of the female swimmers of the Games. Australia (silver, 7:44.87) and Canada (bronze, 7:45.39) completed the podium.
In the semis of the evening, Cate Campbell confirmed her excellent shape in the women’s 100m free, improving the Olympic record she had set some hours before in the heats. The Australian star clocked 52.71 (slightly better than her 52.78 from the prelims) and qualified first for the final, in front of 16-year-old Penny Oleksiak (CAN, 52.72) and Simone Manuel (USA, 53.11). Among men, Russia’s Evgeny Rylov was the fastest (1:54.45) in the 200m backstroke, narrowly beating the 2015 world champion Mitch Larkin (AUS, 1:54.73). Jacob Pebley, from USA, was the third and last man swimming under 1:55, qualifying in 1:54.92. 2015 world champion Kanako Watanabe (JPN) will not swim the Olympic final of the women’s 200m breaststroke, after being 13th of the semis in 2:25.10. The fastest at this stage was, as with the prelims, Australia’s Taylor McKeown (2:21.69). Finally, in the men’s 200m IM, the duel in the decisive race will be between the two “eternal” rivals in this event, US Michael Phelps (first in 1:55.78) and Ryan Lochte (second in 1:56.28).
men’s 200m BREAST
Dmitriy Balandin (KAZ), gold:
"This is the biggest honour and the biggest thing I could have given to my country. I'm very proud of that. Actually, it's history, because it's the first medal in swimming for Kazakhstan and I'm very happy that I'm the one that got it. The tactics was quite simple, swim fast. I was in an outside lane so I couldn’t see my competitors. This helped me a lot to claim this medal.”
“I hope my country will develop a lot in swimming and that this is a great beginning for my country.”
“I haven’t quite processed yet this victory. I hope I have had an adequate reaction. We had 8 people in the final and very good times from everyone.”
“I don’t think it exist an athlete who don’t dream about an Olympic medal. I want to thank everyone who supported me and I hope I gave them an opportunity to celebrate.”
Josh Prenot (USA), silver:
“It feels awesome to win another medal for my country.”
“The team really came together before the Games. We had a long a half long training camps which helped us building up. Michael and Ryan were great leaders. The trials were also very helpful to get us prepared. Can't believe I get to be a part of team USA. It's been incredible seeing what these guys are doing. It's great to be part of this group that's just rolling through this meet. All the team's feeding off that. It's a huge thing. I've never seen this on the national team level before."
“This is the biggest day of my career, trials were close to being the best too.”
"I could only really see the people on either side of me. I really had no idea where I was in relation to the rest of the field.
"I would have liked to have come home a little bit stronger in the last 15 metres. I started my final sprint home a little earlier than I normally would have.
"I knew it was going to be tight. Everyone was within one second of each other. We truly had eight guys who could have been on the podium tonight."
Anton Chupkov (RUS), bronze:
“I think you saw on the screen that me and Dmitriy were laughing together before the race. We have been good friends for a while. There is no tension between us.”
“Junior Championships are way different and I achieved other things in the national championships but what I dreamt about was the Olympics. It is completely different.”
"Dmitriy Balandin is my good friend and we've known each other for a long time. We support each other. We actually shook each other's hand before the start. In the warm up room we had a really nice chat."
"I felt that I was catching up. I saw everything. Five more metres and I would have caught up with him."
"The minimum mission that I set for myself was to get to the final. The overall mission was to jump over my head and get a medal. I feel like I accomplished that."
women’s 200m FLY
Mireia Belmonte (ESP), gold:
“It was difficult to control everything during the final. I was very nervous and I was dreaming a lot. I had to control my emotions and nerves. I will remember it for all my life. Many days of training, working hard, many sacrifices. It was hard some days because you have to fight a lot against yourself.”
“It means everything I’ve ever dreamt of. Everyone around me helped me and I owe them this success. I really thought I wouldn’t recover on time for the Games but thank god I am here. I have a lot of people around me to motivate me and support me.”
“I suffered a lot in the last few meters.”
“In Barcelona I was very good but in Kazan it was hard because of my shoulder injury. The most important important thing was these Olympics. With Fred we have worked hard toward this.”
“Tomorrow is going to be complicated for the 800m. It is going to be a long day. An Olympic week is always complicated, right?! But tomorrow is another day and I hope another gold.”
Madeline Grove (AUS), silver:
“My nickname come from my childhood, mad dog, it has stunk with me and I think it is a pretty cool nickname.”
“I am totally over the moon, I was dreaming about this all week. I just wanted to put everything in this race, I gave it all in the pool tonight. Couldn’t have done it without my coach.”
“I was a teenager when I quit for a few years. I was over it and sometimes teenagers do stupid things.”
"I was so excited for tonight. I was really happy with the way I dealt with the heat and semi yesterday and I was just really looking forward to the challenge. You know, Mireia and I swim our races very differently. Obviously I love to go out very fast and she's always going to be there in the back end and she's a really strong competitor. I am so happy with how it went."
"It just means so much to even be here, as four years ago I was in year 12 and wasn't even swimming, I don't know what I was doing. I absolutely couldn't have done this without my coach Michael BOHL. He's been my biggest supporter for so long and he's always been so encouraging and understanding of me.
"He's just been saying to me this week to just keep believing in yourself and have courage and I certainly think that's what I did in the race tonight. You have to have courage going out fast in the 200m fly like that. I'm really happy with the way it came off."
"Something that is incredibly special to me is that eight years ago in Beijing, I watched four Australian women win a gold medal and break a world record in the 4x200m freestyle relay and that was one of the moments that just made me feel like, 'wow I want to go to the Olympics'.
"One of those women was Bronte and she's racing the same event tonight and I'm going to go and watch that now. Just to be here I just feel so incredibly privileged and to come away with the silver medal is the best thing ever."
Natsumi Hoshi (JPN), bronze:
“Before the Olympics at the selection, I did better. So I am a little bit disappointed. Honestly I don’t think I have been performing that well this year.”
men’s 100m FREE
Kyle Chalmer (AUS), gold:
“It was pretty special when the Australian flag was raised and when I looked up and saw my family. A very special moment that I am glad I shared with them.”
“I won my last medal at the national championships back in May. But yes tonight was very special and still can’t believe it.”
“I didn’t realise I could get on the podium when I left school and started training so hard. I am very grateful.”
"I don't think it will sunk in until I stand on the podium but at the moment it's still sinking in for me that I've actually won. So it's very exciting. It's hard being in this situation because I've been (racing) with a teammate McEvoy (AUS, who finished seventh), who's looked after me all week and roomed with me. I don't want to celebrate too much because I know it would have been really hard for him tonight but I'm sure towards the end of the week I'll be a little bit more excited."
"I actually had no idea about that to be honest with you. I'm someone that probably doesn't follow swimming too much. I kind of stay away and follow basketball and soccer and football. I know that we've been beaten a few times. Going in fastest and being beaten. So I wanted to do it for myself and my family and my country and all my friends back home."
"It's very hard. I've won an Olympic medal and he probably hasn't swum to his best, which hopefully he turns around tomorrow and swims well in the 50. He's a great guy."
Pieter Timmers (BEL), silver:
“I knew I had a small chance for a medal and it was going to be so tight. You have to be mentally strong to be there on the moment. Everything has to be right. I was not the best swimmer of the final but everything came together after four years of training.”
“After my studies I went to a camp in Handoven in the Netherlands and really started to train a lot more hours a week. It was a big turn in my life.”
“I am very happy for all the efforts. I swim for myself but of course there is a big team behind, my sponsors, my coach, my girlfriend, my family. It’s all because of them and the hard work.”
"I'm going to stop after this. I always said this would have to be my best race ever and I did it. This is the last Olympics and then I say farewell. It is a very good way to say goodbye."
Nathan Adrian (USA), bronze:
“I love this event. Everybody who had the capability should swim it.”
“I am a veteran in the sport but I don’t feel older. Last year was not the best. I wasn’t in the shape I should have been in Kazan.”
women’s 4x200m Relay
USA, gold, Alison Schmitt:
“I am grateful for where I am right now. My emotions are so high right now so I will figure out the rest later.”
“No I didn’t feel any pressure at all. We had a great group of girls in this relay.”
“I am way more appreciative of this Olympics. I definitely don’t take it for granted. I am so happy to be part of this team. I enjoy a lot.”