The men’s 100m backstroke Olympic gold medal-winning streak dated back to the 1996 Games in Atlanta. It was kept alive Monday night, when Olympic rookie Ryan Murphy won gold in 51.97 seconds, a new Olympic record.
“That was a really fast final," Murphy said through USA Swimming. "Everyone stepped up their game, and I was lucky that my game was a little bit better tonight. I’m super happy with the result, and it hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Fellow U.S. Olympic rookie, David Plummer, earned the bronze with 52.40 seconds. He set his own record in this event, becoming the oldest medalist in the event at the age of 30 years, 304 days.
"For now, I’m just so excited to be on the podium," Plummer said in the same statement. "I would absolutely would have loved to have been a little faster obviously. But America took the gold, I got up on there on the podium and I’m really, really excited.”
Sandwiched between them was China’s Xu Jiayu, who raced to 52.31 seconds. It's the first medal for China in this event.
2015 World Champion Mitch Larkin of Australia, who clocked 52.40 seconds, placed fourth.
2012 Olympic champion Matt Grevers, who helped build the streak, did not qualify for Rio in any event at the U.S. Trials in June.
2000 Olympic backstroke champion Lenny Krayzelburg predicted earlier in the day that the United States men would finish first and second – he was very nearly right.