One of the best moments of the Olympics so far, Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hafnawi became one of them. Summer games.
Hafnaui, who is relatively unknown in the world of swimming, won the 400m freestyle in Tokyo on Sunday. He looked at the scoreboard and saw the 18-year-old take a time of 3: 43.36 to feel that he had won. As a result, he repeatedly screamed as he hit the water, broke his hat, threw himself on the lane, and rejoiced.
Hafnaui started the race by maintaining the rest of the field before the long distance to secure the victory.
Hafnaui qualified for the final on Saturday with a time of 0.17 seconds, marking the worst time for fielders. While swimming in Lane 8, the teenager just told himself to “run faster than yesterday”, and redeemed the gold after beating Australian Jack McLaughlin by a 14-hundredth of a second. Karen Smith of Team USA won the bronze medal.
“I just can’t accept it,” Hafnaui said. “It’s incredible.”
His shock was palpable as he stood strangely on the podium, unable to believe what to do with his medal. Taking pictures with McLaughlin and Smith, Hafnawi stood until Smith moved him to the middle position where the winner traditionally stands.
A reporter asked Hafnau how he felt about becoming a national hero, to which he replied: “I don’t know.”
Hafnaoui is only the second Tunisian to qualify for one Olympic swimming final. The first swimmer, Oslo Melloli, also won a gold medal.
Over the past year, Hafnaui has gone from 100th to 16th out of the world. When asked about himself, Hafnaui said only that he “likes to hang out with friends, play video games” and that he hopes to swim at an American university.