Tom Dean became the first British male swimmer to win more than one gold medal at a single Olympics in 113 years after helping Team GB to victory in the 4x200m freestyle relay final at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Dean produced the performance of his life to triumph in the men’s 200m freestyle 24 hours earlier in a British record time, and he made a solid, if unspectacular, start in the relay race before his team-mates finished the job.
Alongside Dean was Duncan Scott, who claimed silver in Tuesday’s individual race, James Guy and Matthew Richards, and their time of six minutes and 58.58 seconds saw them bag Team GB’s third swimming gold of Tokyo 2020.
Dean is therefore the only British male swimmer to claim two golds at the same Games in more than a century, following in the footsteps of Henry Taylor, who prevailed in the men’s freestyle 400m and 1500m races in 1908.
GB were favourites heading into the relay – having also qualified fastest from the semi-finals.
Dean started the race and actually performed the slowest of the British quartet, with a time of 1min 45.72secs putting them behind the Russian Olympic Committee and the United States after the first 200m.
Guy, though, established a narrow lead for the pre-race favourites by the halfway stage with his split of 1:44.40 and, despite a sluggish start, Richards had taken that lead to more than a second with his 1:45.01.
Scott, whose runner-up finish behind Dean on Tuesday meant he collected his third Olympic silver, then brought it home in emphatic fashion with 1:43.45 as Britain finished more than three seconds ahead of the second-placed ROC and just 0.03secs off a world record time.
Scott said: “It’s really special with these boys. Matt in third was so composed and the boys up front executed their race plans really well. So close to a world record in the end – if anything I’m a bit gutted!”
Dean said: “I can’t even put it into words. I couldn’t yesterday and I can’t today. I can’t thank these boys enough, from the bottom of my heart. Unreal.”
Scott and Guy were part of the team that won silver in the event in 2016, and the latter added: “As a kid winning an Olympic gold medal was my absolute dream and to do it finally after 25 years is pretty emotional.”
For 18-year-old Richards, it was his first taste of an Olympic Games, and he said: “When you’re racing with guys like this, having a great leg comes easy.
“When they set you up as well as they did and you’ve got literally one of the best freestylers in the world and one of the best freestylers ever going behind you, (it’s a) privilege. And the confidence that gives someone, and the experience, money can’t buy it.”
The quartet’s success on Wednesday morning adds to what has constituted a stunning start to the Games for Great Britain in the pool following Adam Peaty’s gold in the men’s 100m breaststroke and Tom Daley and Matty Lee’s triumph in the synchro 10m platform diving final on Monday.