Mollie O’Callaghan wins gold, becomes youngest world champion in 30 years

Mollie O’Callaghan wins gold, becomes youngest world champion in 30 years

Mollie O'Callaghan

Australian swimmer Mollie O’Callaghan has made her mark at the World Championships in Budapest, becoming the youngest women’s 100m freestyle world champion in more than 30 years.

The 18-year-old overcame some pre-race “panic” to win over Sarah Sjostrom from Sweden, with a time of 52.67 seconds. O’Callaghan turned in sixth position after the first 50 metres, and was swimming in third position for much of the final lap. She sped into the lead not far from the finish, overtaking Sjostrom and American Torri Huske to finish in first place.

The Australian said afterwards she had suffered from a bout of panic before the race.

 “It was bad, the worst ever,” she said.

“I was panicking a little in the warm up, I had a little cramp in my leg and I just felt a little out of it but I had teammates like Madi Wilson there and especially (coach) Dean (Boxall) supporting me which gave me the lift I needed for this race.

“I had to just trust myself and focus on my race, especially for my back end. I was just thinking I had to try and stick with the girls and execute Dean’s race plan as best I could and at the end of the day it was about experience, not necessarily time. Gaining that experience has been awesome this week.”

O’Callaghan’s impressive win marks her first individual gold medal of the world championships, and her fourth medal overall.

She previously won gold in the women’s 4x100m freestyle on the first day of the championships, and has also won silver in the 200m freestyle, and the 4x200m relay.

With her gold in the 100m freestyle, O’Callaghan officially becomes the youngest world record holder in the event in more than 30 years. She takes the title from the United States’ Nicole Haislett, who won in 1991, also aged 18.

Meanwhile, fellow Australian Jenna Strauch has just won silver in the 200m breaststroke. It marks the first medal for Australia in a women’s breaststroke event since Leisel Jones in 2011. Strauch is swimming in her first international swim meet.

“It’s a dream come true really,” Strauch said.

“I was just hoping to make the Final and get all the experience I could so to walk away having stood on the podium has exceeded all my expectations.”

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