Robert Finke won the Gold medal in the first men’s Olympic 800 m freestyle champion on Thursday when he touched ahead of Italy Gregorio Paltrinieri

Robert Finke of the USA won a thrilling final in a time of 7:41.87, beating Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri the 1500 metre freestyle champion at Rio 2016 – to the line after the Italian had gone out fast to lead much of the race by a body length.

Notwithstanding, Finke, who also won the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, flamed back to secure a historic gold medal, with Gregorio Paltrinieri 7:42:11, taking home silver and Mykhailo Romanchuk 7:42:33 of Ukraine winning bronze.

The 21-year-old Finke, produced a performance of grit and determination to win the race, having been fourth on the last turn before storming back to win. “I noticed 10 metres out I was catching up a little bit of ground and that was the only motivation I needed to try and pass and get my hand to the wall first,” he said.

In the competition in which he has dropped his personal best by a full six seconds, the Florida native was left surprised by his own ability to rise to the big occasion.

“The best time I had going in (before Tokyo 2020) was 8:47, and prelims I dropped down to 8:42 and here (in the final) I dropped another second. I had no idea I was going to do that,” he said.


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