British Olympic history continues to be made at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre as the men’s 4×200 freestyle relay team claimed a brilliant gold medal in the pool.
That means Team GB have won three swimming golds at a single Games for the first time since 1908 – also the last time a British quartet climbed the top step of the 4x200m freestyle relay podium.
After Tom Dean and Duncan’s Scott historic one-two in the individual event on Tuesday, Team GB were favourites heading into the relay – having also qualified fastest from the semi-finals – but Olympic finals are never won on paper.
Thankfully, however, this one followed the form book as the four Brits delivered a tour de force performance.
Dean led the team out, touching third at the end of his 200m, before James Guy overhauled the swimmers in front to put Team GB in the lead and 18-year-old Matt Richards – who pulled out of the individual 100m freestyle event to focus on the relay – maintained the advantage.
That gave three-time Olympic silver medallist Scott an anchor-leg lead that he never looked likely to relinquish, finally securing that elusive gold when he touched for a European record time of 6:58.58.
Finishing ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee and Australia, the British quartet were within 0.03 seconds of the world record.
The celebrations, with Guy once again in tears, spoke to the magnitude of the moment as Team GB’s swimming class of Tokyo 2020 continue to rip up the record books.
In picking up his second gold medal of the Games, Dean becomes the first British male to win double Olympic swimming gold in 113 years, when Henry Taylor won three at London 1908.
Tom Dean, 21, from Maidenhead, said: “I can’t even put it into words, I couldn’t yesterday [after winning the 200m freestyle gold] and I don’t think I can today.
“I can’t thank these boys enough from the bottom of my heart, it was unreal. I train with this man [James Guy] every single day and you can see how much this means to us.
“We couldn’t have done it without Calum Jarvis [who competed in the heat], thank you so much. It’s a five-person relay.”
James Guy, 25, from Bury, Greater Manchester, said: “As a kid, winning an Olympic gold medal was my absolute dream and to do it after 25 years is pretty emotional.
“With these lads here, we’re the best freestylers in the world – my teammate [Tom Dean] and Duncan Scott getting first and second, it’s just amazing how things progress.
“Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte won in Rio, now we’re the Olympic champions and that’s a dream come true.”
Matt Richards, 18, from Droitwich, said: “When you’re racing with guys like this, having a good leg comes easy.
“When they [Tom Dean and James Guy] set me up as well as they did and then you know you’ve got one of the best freestylers in the world and one of the best freestylers ever [Duncan Scott] going behind you, the privilege and confidence it gives and the experience it gives for someone my age, money can’t buy that.”
Duncan Scott, 24, from Glasgow, said: “For myself and Jimmy [James Guy] in particular, we’ve been on so many 4x200m freestyle squads together, we’ve been able to win Worlds, Europeans.
“In 2016, we were able to come second, that was a monster achievement at the time but that was jut really special with these boys.
“Matt on the third leg was so composed and those boys [Tom Dean and James Guy] executed their race plans really well.
“It was so close to a world record – if anything, I’m a bit gutted!”