Ryan Murphy, making his Olympic debut in Rio, earned his second gold medal of the Games on Thursday night in the 200m backstroke. He won the 100m distance earlier in the week. He kept the U.S. streak in this event alive, where he extended it to six in a row.
Murphy stopped the clock at one minute, 53.62 minutes to stay ahead of 2015 world champion in the event, Mitch Larkin of Australia, who grabbed silver. Russia’s Evgeny Rylov captured the bronze with 1:53.97.
"The 100 back was a real confidence booster," Murphy said to media after the race. "Going into the first race you don’t really know how it’s going to be. You feel good in training but that doesn’t always mean your races are going to be good."
Murphy’s teammate Jacob Pebley, also making his Olympic debut in Rio, finished fifth.
Five different U.S. men have taken gold medals in the 200m backstroke in every Olympic Games for the past two decades: 1996 (Bradley Bridgewater), Lenny Krayzelburg (2000), Aaron Peirsol (2004), Ryan Lochte (2008) and Tyler Clary (2012).
In 2004, Peirsol swept the 100m and 200m backstrokes; the same was done by Krayzelburg in 2000, Rick Carey in 1984 and John Naber in 1976.
"I remember looking up to all these guys, they were my idols," Murphy added. "To think that I could be that idol for some young kid who’s trying to do this in the future, that’s really cool for me and I don’t take that lightly. I texted Aaron [Peirsol] a lot. He said he was really proud of me and he said, ‘I’m really proud of you and not because of the gold medal but because of how you are handling it.’ That means a lot to me, it’s a testament to how my parents taught me how to grow up.”