As cheers of “USA” resonated within the nearly empty venue, America’s athletes finally struck gold Sunday.
American swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland finished first and second in the men’s 400-meter individual medley, according to the The Associated Press.
Overall, American swimmers collected six medals Sunday.
The turnaround came a fruitless Saturday in which Americans failed to win a single medal.
It started as Kalisz prepared to launch his race at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
FIRST GOLD MEDAL FOR TEAM USA ?
Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland win the gold and silver medals in the men’s 400m individual medley
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 25, 2021
Although spectators were banned due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American swim team tried to make up for it by chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as the race began.
“I’m happy to be here and kick the U.S. off,” he said after his win, according to USA Today.
“It means the world,” said Kalisz, 27.
TEAM USA GETS ITS FIRST #GOLD!
LOOK: Gold medalist Chase Kalisz of the United States celebrates on the podium after winning in the men’s 400m individual medley. #Swimming
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) July 25, 2021
“This is the last thing that I really wanted to accomplish in my swimming career. It was something that was a dream of mine since as long as I could remember.”
Kalisz won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, but on Sunday turned his dreams to gold.
“That one was the most special type of pain,” Kalisz said. “I had vowed that I was going to make that hurt as much as possible and give my absolute best to accomplish this.”
— Eun Yang (@eunyangnbc) July 25, 2021
Litherland, who won his first Olympic medal, was one second behind Kalisz.
Kieran Smith last won a bronze medal in the 400 freestyle.
“A pretty good start for the U.S.,” he said. “We executed today. I’m really proud of us.”
America’s female swimmers joined the medal parade in the 400-meter Individual Medley. Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger finished second and third.
Weyant said that after the men won medals, “we kind of looked at each other and said, ‘It’s our turn.’I think that really got our team going.”
America’s women also won a bronze medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay, according to NPR.
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