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Tokyo Olympics – Ahmed Hafnaoui creates history, wins first African gold in men's 400m freestyle swimming

The Tunisian defeated the likes of Jack McLoughlin and Kieran Smith in the finals

Ahmed Hafnaoui wins Gold at Tokyo Olympics

Ahmed Hafnaoui Tokyo Olympics (Source: Reuters)


Manish Sharma

Updated: 26 July 2021 2:58 AM GMT

Ahmed Hafnaoui, the teenage swimmer from Tunisia, surprised everyone by winning the gold medal in the 400m freestyle event at the Tokyo Olympics. In a sport that has seen the domination of the United States over the years, this was a welcome surprise for everyone and can be looked at as one of those David vs Goliath moments.

It would be an understatement to say that this was a proud moment for the country of Tunisia after the North African country won only their fifth gold medal in the history of the Olympic Games.

On Day 1 of the 400m freestyle heats, Ahmed Hafnaoui was the last athlete to qualify for the finals with a timing of 3:45.68 but in the finals, Hafnaoui improved massively to finish with a time of 3:43.36.

The timing is even more impressive when we consider the fact that the 18-year-old had the joint-second worst reaction time of 0.73s, six seconds behind Australian Jack McLoughlin who eventually finished second. It was some feat by Hafnaoui to win a gold, despite starting the race from the dreaded Lane 8.

Men's 400m freestyle results (Source: Olympics.com)

Hafnaoui was only 12-year-old when he joined the country's national swimming programme. The Tunisian took part in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games and competed in 200m, 400m, and 800m freestyle but failed to win a medal in any of the events.

There is a sense that Hafnaoui might have surprised himself by his performance. This stems from the fact that when he was questioned about his ambitions in 2019, by French outlet LaPresse, the Tunisian said that he was aiming for gold at the Paris Olympics. Little did the young boy know that destiny had other plans for him.

Remember the name: Ahmed Hafnaoui

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