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US Olympic Swimming trials: Ryan Murphy tops backstroke charts, seals Tokyo Olympics berth

Ryan Murphy after the 100m backstroke event at the US Olympic Swimming Trials
Ryan Murphy after the 100m backstroke event at the US Olympic Swimming Trials
Hari Kishore M

Ryan Murphy has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The celebrated American swimmer topped the charts at the US Olympic Swimming Trials in the 100m backstroke with a timing of 52.33 seconds to give himself a chance to defend the gold medal he won in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Ryan Murphy, en route to a gold medal, set a world record in the 100m backstroke at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics with a timing of 51.85 seconds.

Read: Regan Smith wins 100m back, books first Olympic berth

The 25-year-old swimmer will be joined by Hunter Armstrong, who finished second with a time of 52.48 seconds.

Who is Ryan Murphy?

The University of California alumni shot to fame when he dominated backstroke events on the junior circuit at the age of 16. He won bronze medals after impressive performances at the World Junior Swimming Championships in Lima in 2011 and at the Pan American Games. It was the start of something special.

His first international gold medal came at the 2012 World Short Course Championships in Istanbul in the 4x100m relay. In 2015, he swept backstroke events at the NCAA Championships, breaking Ryan Lochte’s record in the process.

Also read: Kieran Smith joins elite club featuring Caeleb Dressel, Simone Manuel and Katie Ledecky

His consistent performances in international events made him a favorite for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He didn’t disappoint as returned from Rio de Janeiro with three gold medals – 100m backstroke (51.97), 200m backstroke (1:53.62) and 4x100m relay (3:27.95).

Although his time of 52.33 was well short of his record of 51.97, Ryan Murphy looks to be in good stead to ace the backstroke events again at the Tokyo Olympics.

Ryan Murphy was on the money from the word go on Tuesday at the CHI Health Center in Omaha. He staved off a stiff challenge from Hunter Armstrong, who leapfrogged from seventh to finish second.

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Slump and regain in form

After winning three golds at the Rio Olympics, Ryan Murphy concentrated more on academics to finish off his degree at the University of California, Berkeley. In the 2017 World Championships Ryan Murphy finished fourth but had a good outing in 2018 when he won the gold medal at the Pan Pacific Championships.

His form slumped in 2019 and he finished fourth at the World Championships. However, Ryan Murphy has pulled up his socks with the Tokyo Olympics on the horizon. He changed his coach and some of his training techniques and it has bore fruit for him.

Explained: Swimmers' shaving ritual before the US Olympic Swimming Trials

Ryan Murphy roared back to form in the US Olympic Swimming Trials semifinals. He still has unfinished business with 200m backstroke trials coming up. He will also have his task cut out when he steps into the pool in Tokyo to make sure the American winning streak in backstroke events continues unperturbe. He has now taken the first step in the right direction by dominating the US trials.

Results of 100m backstroke at US Olympic Swimming trials

1. Ryan Murphy 52.33

2. Hunter Armstrong 52.48

3. Shaine Casas 52.76

4. Bryce Mefford 52.91

5. Justin Ress 53.00


Edited by Diptanil Roy

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