Swimmer Jay Litherland is the first Asian American athlete to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Score: Litherland, who is Japanese American, won silver in the men’s 400-meter individual medley on Sunday. He came in at 4:10.28, behind teammate Chase Kalisz (4:09.42), AP News noted.
Litherland went from sixth to second in the final 100 meters. He has done similar feats in the Olympic trials, according to U.S. team assistant coach Jack Bauerle.
“It’s unbelievable. You think he’s out at the Olympic trials, I actually stopped looking, I was watching Chase, and I happened to look down with 75 meters to go and it’s like ‘here we go again,’ and sure enough,” Bauerle told The Japan Times.
Background: Litherland, 25, was born in Osaka to a Japanese mother and a Kiwi father. He is a triplet who grew up swimming in Atlanta with brothers Kevin and Mick.
The 25-year-old attributed his success to the thought of his family. “They were supposed to be here in the crowd,” Litherland told The Japan Times. “I felt their energy and power in that last 100 (meters). That brought me home.”
Litherland and Kalisz, who won gold on Sunday, are University of Georgia alums who have trained side-by-side for years. “They’re connected at the hip,” Bauerle, who also heads the team at Georgia, told Sports Illustrated.
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