TOKYO (Reuters) – Russian Evgeny Rylov broke the country’s barren gold medal spell in men’s swimming, edging out rivals including American defending champion Ryan Murphy in a thrilling 100m backstroke race that was determined at the wall.
Hitting the wall with a time of 51.98 seconds, Rylov swam from an outside lane to beat fellow-Russian Kliment Kolesnikov who placed second with a time of 52.00 and Murphy who came third with 52.19.
It is the first time a Russian man has won a swimming gold in the Olympics since the Atlanta Games in 1996 when Alexander Popov and Denis Pankratov both topped the podium twice.
The 24-year old Rylov made his Olympic debut in Rio where he placed sixth in the 100m backstroke and won a bronze in the 200m backstroke.
Rylov, who started swimming aged six in Russia’s Novotroitsk, will also race the 200m backstroke in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Russian athletes are competing under the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Tokyo Olympics as part of sanctions for several doping scandals.
(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)