Tunisia wins Africa’s 1st gold Olympic medal

AFRICA has got her first Olympic 2020 medal and it is gold.

Tunisia’s Ahmed Hafnaoui shocked the swimming world with a stunning victory in the men’s 400m freestyle final. The 18-year-old, who qualified with the slowest time and swam the final in the outside lane, won by 0.16 seconds, with Australia’s Jack McLoughlin taking silver and the USA’s Kieran Smith bronze. 

Three years ago,  Hafnaoui finished eighth in the same event at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 

Hafanoui was excited: “I just put my head under the water and that’s it. I just can’t believe it. It’s a dream come true.”

Hafnaoui joins compatriot Oussama Mellouli, who won Olympic gold in the 10km marathon swimming event in London 2012, as the only Tunisian swimming gold medallists.

In the 400m final, Hafnaoui won because he grew stronger over the last 50 metres, touching the wall in 3:43.36. Hafnaoui has become the fifth Tunisian to win a gold medal at an Olympic Games.

“He’s a legend. I wish to be like him someday,” Hafnaoui said of Mellouli, who also won 1500m freestyle bronze at Beijing 2008. “I was in tears. When I see the flag of my country, and I hear the anthem in the background, it was great. I’m so proud of it.”

Africa’s second medal is also destined to come from the pool. South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker set a new Olympic record in the 100m breastsroke in her Olympic debut. Schoenmaker (24)  finished first 1:04:82 to qualify as the fastest swimmer for Monday’s semi-final. She was surprised but happy with her performance. “I didn’t expect that at all,” she said. “When I saw that I was ahead I thought I was dying because I was going way too fast at the end and I thought I could just try and hold on.”

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