A dominant Adam Peaty won gold in the 100m breaststroke at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, as Australia’s Ariarne Titmus shocked American superstar Katie Ledecky to win the 400m freestyle and Margaret MacNeil won the 100m butterfly.
The US meanwhile won gold in the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
Peaty became the first Briton to win consecutive Olympic golds in the same swimming event thanks to a 57.37, the fifth fastest time in the history of the event. He now has 18 of the 19 fastest times ever recorded.
“I’m so buzzed because that was the first,” he said “You can do what you want all year round, you can do what you want in your own arena, your own backyard – it doesn’t mean anything.
“It means everything here. No one thinks about times. Yes, it would have been amazing to finish on a world record, but it’s not about that.”
The 26-year-old, whose gold is the first for Britain in Tokyo, handily dispatched Dutchman Arno Kamminga, the only other swimmer who has managed to step on Peaty’s previously uncharted waters by clocking a sub-58-second swim.
Italy’s Nicolo Martinenghi took home the bronze with 58.33.
Later at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Titmus defeated world record holder and Rio champion Ledecky of the US by 0.67 seconds with a 3:56.69, a new Oceanian record. On Sunday the Australian had already secured a first Olympic gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle relay.
“It is the biggest thing you can pull off in your sporting career, so I’m over the moon,” said Titmus.
“I’m trying to contain it as much as I can. I have a big programme ahead of me, but I can enjoy this afterwards.”
China’s Bingjie Li came distant third with 4:01.08, a new Asian record.
Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, had not lost an Olympic final before Monday. The 24-year-old American is also set to compete in the 200m, 800m and the newly introduced 1500m freestyle races in Tokyo.
“I can’t be too disappointed,” said Ledecky. “It was my second best swim ever (over 400m freestyle). I felt like I fought tooth and nail and that’s all you can ask for.”
Earlier, reigning world champion MacNeil turned on the jets after finishing the first 50 metres in seventh position to touch the wall in 55.59, winning Canada’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Games. She also set an Americas region record in the process.
China’s Yufei Zhang missed out on gold by just 0.05 seconds, while Emma McKeon of Australia won bronze thanks to an even smaller margin, 0.01 seconds, over fourth-placed Torri Huske of the US.
Sarah Sjostrom, champion in Rio and world record holder, placed seventh. Her participation in the Games was in doubt after she broke her elbow slipping on ice in February.
MacNeil has already won silver in the 4x100m freestyle relay on Sunday.
In the last event of the morning session at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, the team of Caleb Dressel, Blake Pieroni, Bowen Becker and Zach Apple was just half a second shy of the world record with 3:08.97.
The team from Italy secured silver and Australia claimed bronze.
Dressel is chasing a six-gold haul at the Games over three individual events and three relays.