Tunisian Ahmed Hafnaoui has won gold at the Tokyo Games on Saturday for 400 meter freestyle. It is the first Olympic medal for the Arab world and the win is being hailed an outstanding surprise. Originally the slowest qualifier to start the final eight-lap race, Hafnaoui took home the gold in three minutes, 43.26 seconds. The 18-year-old beat out Australia’s Jack McLoughlin who finished with silver and American Kieran Smith who earned bronze. All three swimmers finished within a second of each other. Hafnaoui remarks that he dedicates the medal to “all Tunisian people” and confesses to being brought to tears at the sight of his country’s flag rising and hearing his national anthem. As for his podium contemporaries, they were likely baffled at the sight of Hafnaoui, with Smith exclaiming that he knew “absolutely nothing” about his Tunisian opponent. The only previous Olympic gold won by Tunisia in swimming belongs to Ous Mellouli who won the 1,500 meters freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games. On Thursday, Hafnaoui will compete again in the 800 meter freestyle. This time, the world’s eyes will be on him. The ongoing Tokyo Games run until August 8th and are currently being led by The People’s Republic of China, Japan, and the United States of America.
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