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The First Tokyo Olympics Medals For The U.S. Go To Swimmers

Chase Kalisz of the U.S. celebrates after winning the final of the men's 400m individual medley swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday.
Chase Kalisz of the U.S. celebrates after winning the final of the men's 400m individual medley swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Sunday.

TOKYO — The first U.S. medals of the Olympics went to U.S. swimmers, with Team USA athletes winning medals in every final swimming event on Sunday morning in Tokyo.

The very first U.S. medal — and the only gold — went to 27-year-old Chase Kalisz in the men's 400 meter individual medley race.

Kalisz was nearly a full body length ahead of his closest competitor at the end of the race, with a time of 4:09.42. Kalisz pumped both fists and yelled, "Let's go!" as the small group of U.S. athletes and representatives cheered in the stands.

U.S. swimmer Jay Litherland took silver in that race, 0.86 seconds behind him. Brendon Smith of Australia won bronze.

Kalisz, who is originally from Maryland, is the second-oldest swimmer to ever win the Olympic event.

This Olympics is the first one since 1972 where the U.S. did not win a medal on the first day they were awarded.

U.S. swimming legend Michael Phelps has held the world record in this event for 13 years. His winning time, 4:03.84, is more than five and a half seconds faster than the time that won today's gold medal.

Minutes after Kalisz's win, U.S. swimmer Kieran Smith took bronze in the 400 meter freestyle. Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui, who had the slowest qualifying time of the finalists, pulled off a major upset and won the race.

The U.S. earned two medals in the women's 400 meter individual medley race. Emma Weyant won silver, and Hali Flickinger took bronze. After the race, Weyant hugged the winner, Japanese swimmer Yui Ohashi.

U.S. women also won bronze in the 4 x 100 meter relay, with a team of Erika Brown, Abbey Weitzeil, Natalie Hinds, and Simone Manuel. Canada beat them out for silver by just 0.03 of a second.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.