TOKYO — Tunisian swimmer Ahmed El Hefnawy won the 400m freestyle race at the current Tokyo Olympics today, Sunday, making it the first gold medal for Arabs at the current Olympics.
El Hefnawy took first place, 0.16 seconds ahead of Australian Jack McLoughlin, who won silver, and American Kieran Smith was third, taking bronze.
El Hefnawy’s 18-year-old’s gold medal comes three years after he finished eighth in the same race at the 2018 Youth Olympics, which were held in Buenos Aires.
El Hefnawy clocked three minutes 43.36 seconds, followed by McLaughlin in second place with a three minutes 43.52 seconds and Kieran with a three minutes 43.94 seconds.
El Hefnawy’s coronation came a day after his compatriot Mohamed Khalil El Jendoubi won the silver medal in the men’s taekwondo competition weighing less than 58 kilograms.
El Hefnawy was not a strong contender to win the final today, as he qualified from eighth after three minutes and 48.68 seconds.
Al-Hefnawi announced in 2019 that he aims to win a gold medal at the Paris 2024 Olympics, but he exploded a surprise by winning today. He became the fifth Tunisian athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and the second Tunisian to win Olympic swimming competitions.
It should be noted that Ahmed El Hefnawy is the son of Mohamed El Hefnawy, a former player on the Tunisian basketball team.
After the race, Ahmed El Hefnawy said in comments published on the official Olympic website: “I can’t believe this, it’s amazing. I felt better in the water this morning than yesterday. I am now an Olympic champion.. It’s a dream that comes true.”