Aussie teenager stuns swimming world in amazing 31-year first

·4-min read
Mollie O'Callaghan's gold in the 100m freestyle saw the 18-year-old become the youngest winner of the world championships event since 1991. Pic: Getty/Ch9
Mollie O'Callaghan's gold in the 100m freestyle saw the 18-year-old become the youngest winner of the world championships event since 1991. Pic: Getty/Ch9

Aussie teen sensation Mollie O'Callaghan has swum her way into history after claiming an extraordinary gold in the women's 100m freestyle event at the world swimming championships in Budapest.

O'Callaghan won gold after edging Sweden's 28-year-old world record holder Sarah Sjostrom by 0.13sec, with American Torri Huske taking bronze.

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The 18-year-old Queenslander O'Callaghan swept through in dramatic fashion in the final 10 metres to snatch her first individual gold on the world stage and fourth medal of the championships.

O'Callaghan clocked 52.67 seconds to pip Sjostrom and become the youngest winner of the event in more than 30 years.

At 18 years and 82 days, O'Callaghan is the youngest 100m freestyle champion since 1991, when Nicole Haislett of the United States won the title at 18 years and 22 days.Once again, the Brisbane teenager won it the hard way, turning sixth after the first 50m, 0.61 behind Sjostrom.

But just as in Wednesday's semi-final when she produced the fastest second-half of a 100m freestyle race ever recorded - 26.43sec - to roar from last to first, O'Callaghan again timed her race perfectly, clocking 26.71 for the final 50.

The Aussie star admitted afterwards that she suffered a case of the worst pre-race nerves that she'd ever experienced.

"Shocking, it was bad, the worst-ever," smiled O'Callaghan, reflecting on her familiar pre-race nerves.

"I was panicking in my bed, having a little bit of a cramp in my leg, just feeling dizzy, feeling out of it, starting to panic, but I knew I had my teammates there... I guess that kind of uplifted me for the race."

O'Callaghan's victory came on a golden night in the pool for Australia, with Zac Stubblety-Cook winning the 200m breaststroke to take the nation's gold medal tally to four in Budapest.

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Stubblety-Cook appeared to toy with his 200m breaststroke opponents to storm through and add the world title to the Olympic gold he won in the event last year.

He was last after 50m and 100m, before rousing himself to get to third at the 150m mark before his long, slow stroke powered him away over the final length to win almost as he liked in 2:07.07.

Seen here, Australia's Zac Stubblety-Cook posing with his 200m breaststroke gold medal at the swimming world championships in Budapest.
Australia's Zac Stubblety-Cook poses with his 200m breaststroke gold medal at the swimming world championships in Budapest. Pic: Getty

That was way down on the world record 2:05.95 he'd set in Adelaide at the national championships a month ago but the 23-year-old reckoned: "It was a real race tonight.

"Coming off trials last month was a different mindset then what I had going into last year, as well as the different pressure. Tonight I just really wanted to go out and enjoy the race."

The 23-year-old finished 1.31 sec ahead of joint silver medallists, Japan's Yu Hanaguruma and Sweden's Erik Persson (2:08.38), with his final 50m split (31.98) almost a second faster than the next best.

Jenna Strauch, in the women's 200m breaststroke, and the men's 4x200m freestyle quartet of Elijah Winnington, Zac Incerti, Sam Short and Mack Horton also added silvers on a medal-laden day of action in ther pool for the Aussies.

with agencies

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