When even James Guy is managing not to cry, you know that this is all becoming rather routine for the new swimming superpower that is Great Britain.
Guy has been weeping all week here at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. First, when he watched his friend Tom Dean win the 200metres freestyle, then again when he struck gold himself in the 4x200m relay.
Yet on Saturday when he stood on the top step of the podium for a second time, there were no tears and even a bit of laughter. It was just as well, laughed his team-mate Adam Peaty, because ‘there are no more tissues in Tokyo’.
Adam Peaty’s heroics helped Team GB cruise to gold in the 4x100m mixed medley relay
Peaty is left delighted after Britain’s win as he embraces James Guy on the side of the pool
Guy (L) lets out a huge roar alongside Peaty after Britain’s phenomenal display
Instead, Guy’s biggest outpouring of emotion following this mixed 4x100m medley win actually came 25 seconds after Anna Hopkin touched the wall a huge 1.28sec ahead of second-placed China.
That was the moment the official result flashed up on the big screen and the 25-year-old’s roar echoed around this magnificent but empty arena. Little did we know then, however, that Guy’s yell was not because he had noticed they had just set a new record, but because they had not been disqualified.
‘As soon as I dived in, I thought, “I’ve gone too early, I’ve screwed it up, I’m going to get a DQ”,’ revealed Guy. ‘Afterwards, I was just panicking and panicking. I was just waiting and just saying, “Please, please, please, please…”.’
Guy’s wishes were granted and how he deserved it, having selflessly pulled out of the 100m butterfly to save himself for his two relays this weekend.
Peaty helped catch Team GB up after a slow start as the team secured a world record time
Peaty said a belief in the team is what makes Team GB’s swimmers so special this summer
The boy from Bury embodies the team spirit in this swimming squad and he was magnificent again here, dragging the British quartet from fourth to first after his butterfly leg.
His split time of 50.00 was the sixth fastest in history, trailing only the great Americans Michael Phelps and Caeleb Dressel, and it would likely have won him an individual medal, even factoring in the flying starts of a relay.
‘Pulling out of the 100m fly did really hurt,’ he admitted. ‘I was really upset, I was crying again – obviously – and I probably could have medalled with that split there.
‘But the decision paid off. We got a gold medal and a world record. You can’t beat that. Double Olympic champion. I never thought I’d be stood here saying that.’
Neither would anyone else this time last week. But by Saturday morning, with the way this Olympic gala had gone, nobody would have backed anything but a British win in an event making its Games debut.
Kathleen Dawson in action as she played her part to help win a seventh Olympic gold for GB
It was a thrilling spectacle, with men and women racing against each other depending on who each nation selected for each stroke. Kathleen Dawson got Great Britain underway in the backstroke and she slipped in her push off at the start.
‘I couldn’t quite feel my hands and somehow I slipped,’ said the 23-year-old. ‘But I managed to keep calm and just focused on getting the best performance I could.’
Swimming against four men, including the 100m backstroke champion Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee, the Scot finished her leg more than six seconds down on the leaders.
But then in jumped breaststroke world-record holder Peaty, whose split of 56.78sec was the second fastest ever and he brought Britain back into contention in fourth. ‘If I see somebody ahead of me, I just see red mist and it’s like, “I’ve got to get you!”,’ said the now three-time Olympic champion.
One of those he got was poor American Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old 100m champion who was swimming with her goggles in her mouth after they fell off from her eyes when she dived in.
A stunning display means Team GB have now earned a fourth gold in the pool this summer
‘My only bit of remorse was when I saw her goggles come off,’ said Peaty, who has now been part of 14 world records. ‘I felt bad for her. That is hard to take as a junior. She will learn from that.’
Next up was that man Guy and he gave Hopkin a 0.71sec lead that she never looked like letting go. That was despite USA swimming superstar Dressel, who had won his third gold of the Games in the 100m butterfly earlier in the morning, diving in behind her on the freestyle. He was the only man swimming the anchor leg, but was only able to bring America up from last to fifth.
‘To know that Dressel was coming for me, it’s a little bit intimidating,’ admitted Hopkin, whose split was a stunning 52sec. ‘But these guys got me such a great lead, I knew I could stay ahead of them. It’s pretty cool to say I’ve beaten Caeleb Dressel!’
It was cool. So was the time of 3:37.58, knocking 0.83 sec off China’s world record. So were the celebrations as Peaty lifted Dawson up from behind and Guy beat his chest. And so is the history that it has made, with Great Britain winning four golds in the pool for the first time in 113 years, and Hopkin and Dawson becoming first women to win at an Olympics since Rebecca Adlington in 2008. ‘It’s been a brilliant story,’ added Peaty. It is more of a fairytale.