Ryan Murphy Chasing History – and Legends – At Olympic Games in Paris

Ryan Murphy

Ryan Murphy Stalking History – and Legends – At Olympic Games in Paris

The names of Roland Matthes and Aaron Peirsol are synonymous with backstroke greatness. While Matthes flourished for East Germany from the late 1960s into the 1970s, Peirsol carried the backstroke banner for the United States during the opening decade of the 2000s. With five individual medals each, they share the record for backstroke hardware earned at the Olympic Games.

At least for now.

Set to make his third Olympic appearance for Team USA, Ryan Murphy heads to the Paris Games with four medals in the backstroke disciplines. He was the gold medalist in the 100 and 200 distances at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and added silver in the 200 back and bronze in the 100 back at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Murphy will have the opportunity to equal or surpass Matthes and Peirsol in the French capital, as he recently qualified for both events at the United States Olympic Trials. In Indianapolis, Murphy prevailed in the 100 backstroke behind a time of 52.22, and later added the title in the 200 backstroke with a swim of 1:54.33.

At the 2024 Games, Murphy will battle a stacked field in the 100 backstroke, with Italian world-record holder Thomas Ceccon and American Hunter Armstrong looming as obstacles. In the 200 backstroke, Murphy will see the likes of Hungarian Hubert Kos, who won gold in the event at the 2023 World Championships.

If Murphy can claim a pair of medals in the backstroke events, he will eclipse two titans of the sport. Matthes was the 100 and 200 backstroke Olympic champion in 1968 and 1972, and added a bronze in the 100 distance in 1976. Peirsol, meanwhile, was the silver medalist in the 200 back in 2000, doubled in the 100 and 200 events in 2004 and added gold in the 100 back and silver in the 200 back at the 2008 Games.

Murphy has always appreciated the history of the sport, especially those who have come before him in the United States.

“It’s looking at how the previous generations treated me,” he told Paris 2024. “I’m so thankful for the support that they’ve shown me, and I think they’ve done that all in different ways. Lenny Krayzelburg is someone who I’ve really connected with over the years, and we just kind of bond on the raw competitiveness. We really want to get in some work and try to maximize fitness. And then I think there’s someone like Aaron Peirsol who has got that raw competitiveness as well. But he likes to talk a little bit more about the flow of the stroke and the technique and how to balance working for a 200 back with the 100 back. For the generation that is coming up behind me, I think the easiest thing to do is just sharing experiences that I’ve had, like, what has the final looked like the last five years? And how do people react to pressure? What are their instincts? And kind of passing on real race tips.”

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Kanga1
Kanga1
1 day ago

Apart from my auto response of ‘if American I hope they lose’, I’d like to see him win the 200m!

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