TOKYO – The hurt felt so good for Penny Oleksiak who won bronze in the 200-metre freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics to become the most decorated Canadian summer Olympian.
Oleksiak (High Performance Centre – Ontario/Toronto) swam a personal best time of one minute, 54.70 seconds to collect her second medal of these Games and the sixth of her career Wednesday morning in Tokyo (Tuesday evening in Canada). The 21-year-old is tied with Clara Hughes and Cindy Klassen for the most medals by any Canadian Olympian.
“When I touched the wall I was in so much pain,” said Oleksiak, who swam the anchor leg on the women’s 4×100-m freestyle relay that won silver. “That was worth every second of pain I went through.”
Oleksiak led the field after the first 50 metres but was fourth on the final turn. She dug in deep to reach the wall before China’s Junxuan Yang.
Australia’s Arianne Titmus won gold in 1:53.50 while Siobhan Haughey of Hong Kong was second in 1:53.92.
Oleksiak said she was inspired by Maggie Mac Neil (London Aquatic Club/London. Ont.) winning gold in the 100-m butterfly.
“Maggie came in today with her gold medal,” she said. “I was staring at it. I said, ‘I want one of those.’”
Oleksiak won four medals, including a gold in the 100-m freestyle, at the Rio 2016 Games.
“I’m not done yet,” she said. “I hope there is more coming.”
In another final Sydney Pickrem (HPC – Ontario/Halifax, N.S.) finished sixth in the 200-m individual medley in 2:08.52.
Canadian swimmers have won four medals in the pool. Kylie Masse was second in the 100-metre backstroke.
John Atkinson, Swimming Canada’s high performance director and national coach, said Oleksiak is writing a chapter of Canadian Olympic history.
“It shows what a great racer she is and how she gets in and goes for it,” he said.
Canadians have won a medal in each of the finals sessions and Atkinson predicted more are possible.
“We have lots of opportunity still to come,” he said. “The coaches and athletes are working really hard on racing and recovery.
“We have to keep going through the back half of the meet like we have through the front half.”
Hughes won two cycling medals at a summer Olympics and four speed-skating medals over three winter Games. Speed-skater Cindy Klassen also won six medals over two Olympics.
Oleksiak surpasses the five medals runner Phil Edwards won over three Games beginning in 1928 and rower Lesley Thompson-Willie in five Games starting in 1984.
She could add to her total in her remaining events, the 100-m freestyle, the 4×200-metre freestyle relay and the two medley relays.
In other events, Josh Liendo (HPC – Ontario/Toronto) and Yuri Kisil (HPC – Ontario/Calgary) failed to advance to the final of the 100-m freestyle.
Liendo, the 18-year-old Olympic rookie, was timed in 48.19 seconds, just .06 off his personal best, to finish 14th. The 25-year-old Kisil, racing at his second Games, swam 48.31 seconds to finish 15th.
“It was a really good experience,” said Liendo, who swam 48.34 seconds in the preliminaries. “I would have liked to have been faster but I was happy I dropped time from the preliminaries.”
Kisil, who finished 10th at Rio Olympics, said it was a fast field.
“It’s a little disappointing but it’s always a great experience to race against the best in the world,” said Kisil, who swam a personal best 48.15 in the preliminaries. “It’s the fastest field there’s ever been so to hold my own is reassuring.”
Both Liendo and Kisil were part of Canada’s 4X100-m freestyle relay which placed fourth on Monday.