Queensland swimmers win first Olympic gold for Australia
The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team has given Australia its first gold medal of the London Olympics after defeating the Netherlands and the United States.
The relay team – Queenslanders Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell, Brittany Elmslie and Melanie Schlanger – swam for their lives to break the Netherlands’ stranglehold on the event.
Coutts got the girls off on the right note with a tremendous start before passing the baton to Cate Campbell who brought the girls from third up to second.
It was when Brittany Elmslie dived into the pool for the third leg the magic for Australia happened as she seized the lead from arch rivals America in the final part of her stint.
Melanie Schlanger was left with the daunting task of bringing Australia home as the final 40 metres approached it was neck and neck with the USA and the Netherlands, but Schlanger held off to give Australia a stunning victory.
The girls’ time of 3:33.15 was enough to regain the Olympic Record of The Netherlands, leaving them to settle for silver in 3:33.79 and the USA with bronze in 3:34.24.
Post-race Elmslie couldn’t hide her excitement, which at first left her speechless.
“I can’t stop smiling after that,” she said.
“I still can’t believe I’m an Olympic gold medallist. All four of us swam so well tonight and it is special to share the feeling with the other three girls.”
Schlanger said she always wanted to sing the national anthem but to do it at the Olympics was very special.
Earlier in the night Alicia Coutts managed to secure Lane 5 for final of the 100m Butterfly event with a time of 56.85 behind her arch rival Dana Vollmer (USA) who did 56.36. These two will battle it out for gold tonight with Alicia narrowly losing to her at the world championships last year.
The Australian men’s road racing team couldn’t capture any glory in the 250km race around London with Stuart O’Grady finishing sixth while former Tour De France champ Cadel Evans could only manage a mere 80th place.
Evans said he was still battling health issues after he was unable to move up with O’Grady.
The biggest upset of the first day of competition was endured by American Michael Phelps, who only managed to scrape into the 400m individual medley final. He then finished fourth, losing to his protégé Ryan Lochte, making this the first time since Sydney 2000 he hasn’t finished in the top three at an Olympic final.