Team USA’s Caeleb Dressel wins men's 100m freestyle - and first individual gold - in Olympic record

Caeleb Dressel of USA breaks men's 100m freestyle Olympic record for second gold of Tokyo Olympic Games

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Swimmer Caeleb Dressel has won the first individual Olympic gold of his career in the men’s 100m freestyle.

The American swimmer held off the defending Olympic champion, Australia’s Kyle Chalmers, to win by 0.06 seconds. Dressel’s winning time at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre was an Olympic record of 47.02 seconds.

Kliment Kolesenikov, representing ROC claimed the bronze in 47.44 secs.

"It means a lot [to win]," said Dressel on winning his first individual Olympic gold. "I knew that weight was on my shoulders - I'd won (Olympic) relay medals but never individual, so it was really special.

"It is different. I didn't want to admit it but now that I did it, I can. It's a lot different - you can't rely on anyone else. 

"It's just you and the water, there's no one there to bail you out. It's tough."

Caeleb Dressel was the pre-race favourite, having qualified for the final with the fastest time in the world this year.

And the race was given extra frission by the fact it was a repeat of the final at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, where Chalmers won gold and Dressel finished sixth.

This time around, Dressel was leaving nothing to chance.

Exploding out of the blocks with the fastest reaction time of the finalists (0.60), Dressel led from start to finish.

Trailing in third at the 50m mark, Chalmers powered back to challenge his US rival in the latter stages of the race.

Following a furious sprint to the wall, Dressel beat Chalmers by 0.06 second, leaving the defending champion with the silver.

Dressel already has a gold medal from the Tokyo, as part of the USA’s victorious 4x100m freestyle relay team.

And the 24-year-old’s first three Olympic golds have come in the relays.