Duncan Scott anchors 4x200m squad to historic gold in Tokyo

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Duncan Scott anchors 4x200m squad to historic gold in Tokyo
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One is the first male British swimmer to claim two golds at the same Olympics for 113 years. Two are serial silver winners finally sampling gold. The fourth is a wide-eyed 18-year-old who became champion at the first time of asking and probably thinks this Olympics lark is rather easy.

Mismatched they may be but Team GB’s newest ‘fab four’ were perfectly in sync as they blitzed to a dominant 4x200m freestyle relay victory and continued the swimming squad’s now-daily ripping up of the record books at Tokyo 2020.

Glasgow’s finest Duncan Scott – along with Tom Dean, Matt Richards and James Guy – took on all-comers and left them trailing to touch the wall in 6:58.58: a mere 0.03s outside USA’s 12-year-old world record and a mammoth 3.23s clear of the second-placed Russian Olympic Committee.

When Dean and Scott notched a one-two in the individual 200m freestyle event 24 hours earlier, century-old records were broken and this victory had everyone scurrying for the history books again.

A British quartet most recently won an Olympic 4x200m freestyle relay at London 1908 – the same Games where Team GB’s swimmers last claimed three victories in the pool.

Both those droughts were ended, as the relay gold joined Dean’s individual success and Adam Peaty’s similarly dominant 100m breaststroke triumph for a golden hat-trick.

Scott was also edging towards records after claiming individual silver – taking his total tally of second-place Olympic medals to three.

Yet medal number four was finally the colour he really wanted – a gold that he anchored home with a barely believable split of 1:43.4, a swim that he may have poured any residual frustration from being the bridesmaid once more the previous day into.

Guy was in a similar position, as a double Olympic silver medallist from the same relays at Rio 2016, and Scott acknowledged that finally getting to climb the top step of the podium was special.

“For myself and Jimmy [James Guy] in particular, we’ve been on so many 4x200m freestyle squads together, we’ve been able to win Worlds, Europeans.

“In 2016, we were able to come second, that was a monster achievement at the time but this was just really special with these boys.

“Matt on the third leg was so composed and those boys [Tom Dean and James Guy] executed their race plans really well.”

Ever the perfectionist, the 24-year-old was left annoyed at agonisingly missing out on the quickest 4x200m freestyle relay time in history.

He added: “It was so close to a world record – if anything, I’m a bit gutted!"

Thursday also saw another two Scots in action at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre as Glasgow-born James Wilby and Balloch’s Ross Murdoch contested the men’s 200m breaststroke semi-finals.

It was a mixed bag, as Murdoch finished fifth in his race to miss out on the final but Wilby flew out of the blocks and was on world record pace with around 70 metres to go before holding on to finish second.

His time of 2:07.91 was the second-fastest qualifying time and he was pleased to seal a plum lane for Thursday morning’s final.

“I’m really happy with that,” said Wilby. “It’s challenging being in an outside lane but I knew coming in, that the job was to get a good lane for the final.

“Racing is where I thrive and it’s becoming clearer and clearer that this Games is a racing Games, it’s not necessarily a pure performance Games.

“Being right up there in the mix tomorrow is the most important thing and that was the sole purpose of this morning.”

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