Team GB add to their impressive medal tally with a win in the 4x100m mixed relay at the 2020 Olympic Games
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GOLDEN girl Anna Hopkin showed nerves of steel to hold off American superstar Caeleb Dressel as if she was denying a crocodile its lunch.
And as Great Britain brought home the bullion again in the pool, Hopkin and Kathleen Dawson became Team GB’s first female Olympic champions since Rebecca Adlington in Beijing.
When Hopkin turned for home on the anchor freestyle leg, Dressel – who had already won three gold medals at Tokyo 2020 – was the biggest threat in her rear-view mirror.
But she didn’t flinch, didn’t yield an inch and had 1.3sec to spare as Dawson, Adam Peaty, James Guy and Hopkin clocked a world record 3min 37.58sec for Team GB in the mixed 4×100 metres medley relay.
Dressel didn’t even make the podium, China and Australia taking the other medal spots.
“It’s pretty cool to say I’ve beaten Caeleb Dressel,” joked Hopkin. “To know that he was coming for me, it’s a little bit intimidating. But I knew that the guys ahead of me would get me a good lead.
“And then it was just about keeping my head down, not worrying about where he was, staying focused on my lane and bringing it home for the guys.
“When I turned and saw I still had a good bit of water in front of me, I just went for it.”
Team GB’s fourth gold of the Games, and seventh in total, matched their best-ever performance 113 years ago – and the mixed relay was exhilarating sport.
Some of the best quartets ever to take centre stage were made up of two men and two women – Abba and Bucks Fizz, for starters.
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This was a perfect advert for men and women to compete against each other on equal terms, with no set formula to dictate which gender is assigned to swim each leg.
Dawson recovered from a horrid start to keep the Brits in contention on the backstroke sector, before Peaty – entering the fray six seconds down – swam the second-fastest 100m breaststroke in history, a ridiculous 56.78.
If you were swimming on a beach where sharks were lurking offshore and Peaty was the lifeguard, you would wade into the surf and fancy your chances all day long.
Then Guy catapulted Team GB into the lead with a sensational 50-second split on the butterfly, and 25-year-old Hopkin, from Chorley, landed the knockout blow: Ecky thump.
After London 2012, British Swimming’s stock in the pool had sunk like a scuba diver after a heavy lunch and their funding was slashed – but look at us now.
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Ringleader Peaty, who had retained his 100m breaststroke title in midweek, said: “One word has changed the whole British team – belief.
“We believe we can win, we believe we can get world records. If you have belief, you can build everything around that and we showed that.
“I hope this team and the rest of British Swimming get the recognition and the respect that they deserve because it’s been f*****g hard.
“Sorry, but it’s the only way to get the emotion across. Honestly, people don’t understand how hard it is. Hopefully people back home can understand that.
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“I’ve been doing this for seven years since 2014 and I didn’t think the team would be where they are today. It’s just incredible to be part of that and hopefully people back home are pretty pumped.
“Since I was first introduced (to British Swimming) in 2014, that’s my 14th world record. It’s more inspiring to be part of this team than anything could be.”