Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu, known in swimming circles as the “Iron Lady” for her ability to crank out grueling programs successfully, took her first Olympic medal after three prior appearances in the Games. She won the 400m individual medley with a new world record time of four minutes, 26.36 seconds; she lowered the existing record by 2.07 seconds.
Hosszu owns three World titles in the 400m IM and the 200m IM world record.
Hosszu nearly clipped the 400m IM world record in the preliminary heat, finishing 0.15 seconds off the mark. Her husband and coach, American-born Shane Tusup, showed his excitement from the stands.
Hosszu’s time would’ve won gold in the men’s 400m individual medley in the 1972 Olympics. She also set a record as the oldest woman to ever win the Olympic crown in this event.
Team USA’s Maya DiRado, competing in her first Olympics, took silver in 4:31.15. She also earned a silver medal in the event from the 2015 World Championships. Following the 2016 Rio Games, where she is slotted to swim two more individual events (the 200m IM and the 200m backstroke) she will retire from the sport.
"To be here racing in an Olympic final is amazing in itself," DiRado told media after the race. "I smiled behind the blocks which I don’t normally do. I was like, ‘I’m swimming in an Olympic final.’ I was the girl videotaping and recording all those sessions and now I get to be up there and it was so fun. It was my last 400m IM ever and it was my best time."
Elizabeth Beisel, one of the U.S. swim team co-captains, finished in sixth place with 4:34.98. She owns a silver medal in this event from the 2012 Olympics.
2012 Olympic champion, Ye Shiwen of China, did not qualify for the eight-woman final.