Commonwealth Games: Kyle Chalmers Goes Wire-to-Wire for 100 Freestyle Gold

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Kyle Chalmers -- Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Commonwealth Games: Kyle Chalmers Goes Wire-to-Wire for 100 Freestyle Gold

With individual gold on the line in the men’s 100 freestyle, Kyle Chalmers was not going to be stopped.

It has been a trying week for the 24-year-old from South Australia at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, as several Australian media outlets have grilled Chalmers over his interactions with ex-girlfriend Emma McKeon and her current partner, pop star and Australian team member Cody Simpson. After anchoring Australia to gold in the men’s 400 freestyle relay, Chalmers dealt with what he called “probably the hardest 12 hours in my sporting career for sure” as the situation was taking a toll on his mental health.

But after one rough swim in prelims, Chalmers was lights-out in the semifinal as he qualified first in 47.36, instantly making him the second-fastest man in the world this year behind Romanian teenager David Popovici. He scratched out of the 100 butterfly to focus on the 100 free final — and his performance was on par with the extremely high standard we have come to expect from Chalmers.

Typically a fast finisher, Chalmers was first to the 50-meter mark in 22.87, four hundredths ahead of Canada’s Josh Liendo, the bronze medalist in the event at the World Championships. Chalmers took off from there and put distance between himself and the field, with only 200 free Olympic champion Tom Dean of England able to stay within range. Chalmers touched in 47.51 to secure gold, and while he was short of his semifinal mark, he was still faster than Popovici swam to secure the world title in the event in June. Chalmers skipped the individual 100 free in Budapest.

At the finish, Chalmers climbed on top of the lane line and put his finger to his lips as if to say “Shh,” with his likely target the Australian press that has discussed his personal life in such detail this week. The gold medal was Chalmers’ third career top honor in the 100 free in international waters. Previously, he won the 100 free at the 2016 Olympics (as an 18-year-old) and at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, while he was the silver medalist at the 2021 Olympics, 2019 World Championships and 2018 Commonwealth Games.

After the race, Chalmers called the last two days “an emotional roller coaster” and suggested that he serious considered leaving the meet because of what he was going through.

“Normally I do a bit more powerful celebration after a win but that one was one that probably means more than giving a fist bump or flexing the muscles,” Chalmers said, according to The Guardian. “It is special to win, but unfortunately I think it is hard to enjoy the moment when all that has happened has gone on. It makes it a challenging time. I am grateful that I was able to block it out enough to stand up and win tonight. I hope this is a learning point for everybody, and I hope nobody else has to go through what I have gone through.”

Dean claimed silver in 47.89, his fourth silver medal of the week (after previously taking second in the 200 free and two relays) and the bronze went to Scotland’s Duncan Scott. Scott was seventh at the turn but surged home in 24.73 to put himself on the podium with a final mark of 48.27. Scott won his third individual medal of the week. He already edged out Dean for gold in the 200 free and took bronze in the 400 IM during that same session.

Liendo, who ranks fourth in the world at 47.55, fell all the way to seventh place (48.66).

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