Is A Mellouli Double Possible In Both 2020 And 2024?
23-year-old Florian Wellbrock of Germany, 26-year-old Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy, and 24-year-old David Aubry of France are the remaining three athletes who could achieve a Mellouli Double at the Tokyo Olympics. Paltrinieri already captured a silver medal in the 800m freestyle earlier in the Olympic schedule and all three are potential podium finishers in both the 1500m freestyle in the pool and in the 10 km marathon swim in Odaiba Marine Park on August 5th.
“But there is another swimmer who was previously not on our Mellouli Double radar for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” said Steven Munatones. 18-year-old Ahmed Hafnaoui of Tunisia shocked the swimming world when he won the 400m freestyle in 3:43.36. “Ahmed has been rapidly improving over the last two years – very similar to Lydia Jacoby, the women’s 100m breaststroke Olympic champion of Alaska who similarly pulled off an unexpected upset. These Olympics have been so competitive – save for a few races. Sometimes, you have 3, 4, 5 or 6 swimmers in a position to win a medal in the latter parts of the races. It is great to see.
Ahmed went out very fast in his final 400m swim and just hung on to win the most dramatic upset of the Games in my opinion. He is a teenager who believes in himself, racing against bigger stronger men. He captured gold in a dramatic fashion to put Tunisia – once again – on the global swimming map.
Paltrinieri, Wellbrock and Aubry probably have another Olympics or two before they wrap up their competitive careers, but Ahmed is another potential swimmer who can pulled off a Mellouli Double in 2024 at the Paris Olympics.”
He said after donating his winning swimsuit to be displayed at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, “only Mellouli is certainly a legend and an example. I would like to be one day like him, to achieve what he has achieved, thus giving so much joy to the Tunisian people – three Olympic medals. He congratulated me after this gold medal and we are always in contact.
Just two years ago, Hafnaoui was not close to being in the Olympic final picture. His best time in May 2018 was 3:56.15 which would have placed him nearly a half a pool length back from his performance at the Tokyo Olympics. He had lifetime best time drops of 3:55.94 to 3:53.34 in 2019 to 3:52.05 to 3:49.90 in early 2020 to 3:36.16 in June to 3:43.36 for his Olympic gold medal performance. With those kinds of steady performance improvements over two years, Hafnaoui’s confidence was soaring. “Of course I thought I could win [the Olympic final]. I had the determination to swim fast, to eventually get the gold. I always believe in what I could achieve, I knew I could do it. If there is a strong will to win, everything can happen. On the last 50 meters, I saw it was possible and I continued swimming fast until the final touch. I am proud of being now part of the Olympic history.“
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