Tokyo Flashback: ‘Like a Dream:’ Double Delight for Yui Ohashi in 200 IM Olympic Gold; Americans Go Silver-Bronze

Jul 28, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Yui Ohashi (JPN) celebrates after winning the women's 200m individual medley final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Yui Ohashi; Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA TODAY Sports

Tokyo Flashback: ‘Like a Dream:’ Double Delight for Yui Ohashi in 200 IM Olympic Gold; Americans Go Silver-Bronze

One year has passed since the Olympic Games, delayed by a year due to COVID-19, unfolded in Tokyo. To celebrate what went down in the Japanese capital, Swimming World is revisiting the championship finals – each on their one-year anniversary – by once again running the stories that were posted after the medals were decided.

Olympic races are supposed to be close. But even by Olympic standards, the 1.4 seconds separating the eight finalists in the women’s 200 individual medley Wednesday morning was outstandingly tight.

The race they delivered didn’t disappoint.

In a final that looked like it could’ve gone any of four different ways into the final 15 meters, Yui Ohashi surged at the right moment to get her hand to the wall first in 2:08.52.

“It seems like a dream, it doesn’t feel real,” a beaming Ohashi said.

The other medals were an All-American affair, with Alex Walsh hanging on for silver in 2:08.65. Kate Douglass shook off a sluggish first 100 to surge for bronze in 2:09.04, just .11 ahead of Abbie Wood of Great Britain. Yu Yiting, the early pace-setter, was fifth.

The race went back and forth. Yu was out first at the 50 and the 100, with Ohashi fifth. She moved up on backstroke into stalking distance in second, while Douglass faded to sixth. Walsh seized the initiative in breaststroke, maintaining a razor-thin margin of .07 over Ohashi with Wood gaining into third.

Douglass then kicked as Walsh looked to fade. The leading four hit the final 15 meters almost in synch. But Ohashi in lane 2, clinging to the far lane line away from Walsh to her right, sped up just a fraction to nab her second gold.

“In the last 15 meters it was really hard,” Yui Ohashi said. “My legs were really hurting, but I just kept kicking.”

Walsh was second, with Douglass holding off Wood.

“We’ve seen a lot of really good races for Team USA and we wanted to contribute to that,” Walsh said. “I felt like the ready room was pretty calm, and I think both of us just had the mindset, and Todd (DeSorbo) told us, just leave it all in the pool. We wanted to have good races and execute well. I think we did just that. We put our hearts on the line and it worked out, so I couldn’t be prouder.”

“I think we all knew that it was going to come down to the last 50 in that race because all our times are pretty close together,” Douglass said. “My mindset was just to execute the race in my head and just finish as fast as I can.”

Ohashi adds her name to what has become a common practice on the women’s side in the IM double, after she won the women’s 400 IM on the opening night. It’s happened nine times, including in six straight games dating back to Ireland’s Michelle Smith in 1996. None of those swimmers have been Americans, oddly enough, with Ukraine’s Yana Klochkova pulling the feat twice, along with Aussie Stephanie Rice (2008), China’s Ye Shiwen (2012) and Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (2016).

Hosszu who scraped into the final in Lane 1, was a non-factor, taking seventh in 2:12.38. Canada’s Sydney Pickrem, who scratched the 400 IM due to illness, was sixth in 2:10.05, looking briefly like she could surge in breaststroke but not mounting a charge.

Women’s 200 Individual Medley

  • World record: Katina Hosszu, Hungary, 2:06.12 (2015)
  • World record: Katina Hosszu, Hungary, 2:06.58 (2016)
  1. Yui Ohashi, Japan, 2:08.52
  2. Alex Walsh, United States, 2:08.65
  3. Kate Douglass, United States, 2:09.04
  4. Abbie Wood, Great Britain, 2:09.15
  5. Yu Yiting, China, 2:09.57
  6. Sydney Pickrem, Canada, 2:10.05
  7. Katinka Hosszu, Hungary, 2:12.38
  8. Alicia Wilson, Australia, 2:12.86
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