Olympics: Kliment Kolesnikov Maintains Season Momentum As Top Seed in 100 Backstroke

Jul 25, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kliment Kolesnikov (ROC) in the men's 100m backstroke heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

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Olympics: Kliment Kolesnikov Maintains Season Momentum As Top Seed in 100 Backstroke

It’s been quite a year for Russian Kliment Kolesnikov. From setting a world record in the 50-meter backstroke to clocking the second-fastest time in the world in the 100 freestyle, the 21-year-old has long looked ready to excel at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. That preparedness was put on display during the preliminaries of the 100 backstroke on Sunday night at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Not holding back, Kolesnikov rocketed to the fastest time of the evening, an effort of 52.15 that immediately made him the man to beat in the event. Kolesnikov was out in 24.89 and came home in 27.26 to book the top seed for the semifinals and to finish .34 ahead of No. 2 qualifier Thomas Ceccon of Italy. Ceccon recorded a time of 52.49.

Three other men dipped under the 53-second barrier, including two-time world champion Xu Jiayu of China, who managed a time of 52.70. He was followed in qualifying by Australia’s Mitch Larkin (52.97) and Japanese veteran Ryosuke Irie, who went 52.99. France’s Yohann Ndoye Brouard was next at 53.13, with American Ryan Murphy and Russia’s Evgeny Rylov posting matching marks of 53.22.

The defending champion, Murphy took it easy through prelims and is waiting for the necessary time to dip into his reserve. Murphy was stellar at the Olympic Trials and is seeking to give the United States its seventh straight gold medal in the event.

Men’s 100 Backstroke

World Record: Ryan Murphy, United States, 51.85 (2016)
Olympic Record: Ryan Murphy, United States, 51.85 (2016)

Semifinalists
1. Kliment Kolesnikov (Russia) 52.15
2. Thomas Ceccon (Italy) 52.49
3. Xu Jiayu (China) 52.70
4. Mitch Larkin (Australia) 52.97
5. Ryosuke Irie (Japan) 52.99
6. Yohann Ndoye-Brouard (France) 53.13
7. Ryan Murphy (United States) 53.22
7. Evgeny Rylov (Russia) 53.22
9. Hugo Gonzalez (Spain) 53.45
10. Mewen Tomac (France) 53.49
11. Guilherme Guido (Vrazil) 53.65
12. Robert Glinta (Romania) 53.67
13. Isaac Cooper (Australia) 53.73
14. Marek Ulrich (Germany) 53.74
15. Hunter Armstrong (United States) 53.77
15. Apostolos Christou (Greece) 53.77