Tokyo Flashback: Kaylee McKeown Celebrates Golden Double In The 200m Backstroke; Bronze for Emily Seebohm

Jul 31, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kaylee McKeown (AUS) celebrates after winning the women's 200m backstroke final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports - swimmers
LANES OF GOLD: Kaylee McKeown celebrates her golden double, adding the 200m backstroke to her 100m gold in Tokyo. Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher/USA Today Sports

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Tokyo Flashback: Kaylee McKeown Celebrates Golden Double In The 200m Backstroke; Bronze for Emily Seebohm

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.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown has become just the seventh swimmer in history to win the Olympic backstroke double – storming home over the final lap to win the 200m backstroke in Tokyo today with fellow Dolphin Emily Seebohm – taking bronze at her fourth Games.

McKeown, at just 20 years of age, charged past early leader and silver medallist Kylie Masse from Canada over the final 50 metres to add the 200m to her victory over the 100m earlier in the Games -= the first since Missy Franklin in London in 29012 to win the coveted backstroke double.

The girl from USC Spartans on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast clocked as slick 2:04.68 (just outside her pb) – to win the first ever gold medal in the 200m backstroke for Australia with Nicole Livingstone the only ever previous medallist – bronze in Barcelona in 1992.

But it wasn’t about the time today – as her coach Chris Mooney said on the eve of the Olympics: “It is all about getting your hand on he wall first in the final” and what a golden week it has been for the Dolphins – with McKeown winning Australia’s seventh gold of these Games.

A brave Masse hung on to take the silver in 2:05.42, with Seebohm the bronze in 2:06.17 – after her silver to Franklin in the 100m in London in 2012.

And like yesterday’s 100m freestyle final, it was Seebohm, like Australia’s flag-bearer Cate Campbell who won bronze behind Emma McKeon, who joined her fellow four-time Olympian as an individual bronze medallist.

Masse, silver behind McKeown in the 100m, as tenacious as ever, who led through the first 150 metres – McKeown encroaching on her lead at every turn and a trade mark finish sealed the gold for the Australian star.

McKeown latter wrapped up her day, adding bronze in the 4x100m Mixed Medley Relay, with the 4x100m medley relay to come on the last day.

On the 200m backstroke, she said: “So stoked to win the double and I had the belief because I’d trained for the 200m; I’d done the work but I was nervous just the same and I just went out and did my best and another gold medal is just brilliant.”

And in a touching moment, it was Seebohm, the oldest medallist in the event at 28,  who presented her young team mate with her gold medal, before the pair embraced and the pair stood side-by-side as they played the Australian National Anthem “Advance Australia Fair” before another special cuddle at the end of the presentation.

“After what Emily has done for Australia and to see her with the bronze, she deserved to be there….it meant the world to us to be together,” said McKeown, who admitted she had tears in her eyes.

It was an emotionally charged day for Seebohm who broke down in tears on the pool deck as she spoke to Australian broadcaster Channel 7’s Nathan Templeton, reflecting on an extraordinary career, and a day she never ever thought would happen, after missing the 2019 world championships.

“I never, ever thought  this day would happen..I am just so thankful to everyone, being a part of the Australian Swim team has been some of the best times of my life and this team has been so good….” said Seebohm, apologizing for being “such a sook” before comparing her career to that of fine wine that is “improving with age.”

Masse said her 200 backstroke had has come a long way.

“I didn’t even make the team in (this event) in Rio…it’s taken me years to get to here. I’m really happy with my progress and proud of being able to get on the podium…it feels amazing. I am honored to represent Canada and get on the podium twice.

“I have high expectations for myself, but I am really happy to be on the podium a second time at the Olympic Games. It’s really an honor.”

The Americans were in fourth and fifth place, just missing the podium. Rhyan White went 2:06.39, outsplit by Seebohm on the final 50 by eight tenths. Both swimmers chased down Phoebe Bacon, who was third at the 150-meter wall. She finished fifth in 2:06.40.

White was also fourth in the 100 back, missing medals by a combined six tenths, hence her emotions after the race.

“It was really fun being in the final,” White said. “I think it’s kind of heartbreaking obviously getting fourth, but me and Phoebe put up a good fight and represented our country well, so I’m happy with it despite the tears.”

Olympic 200m backstroke FINAL

  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS) 2:04.68
  2. Kylie Masse (CAN) 2:05.42
  3. Emily Seebohm (AUS) 2:06.17
  4. Elizabeth White (USA) 2:06.39
  5. Phoebe Bacon (USA) 2:06.40
  6. Taylor Ruck (CAN) 2:08.24
  7. Xuwei Peng (CHN) 2:08.26
  8. Yaxin Liu (CHN) 2:08.48
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