The women's 400 meter freestyle final was one of the most hotly anticipated races at these Tokyo Games — and it certainly delivered on the drama.
Ariarne Titmus fought her way back to overtake two-time defending Olympic champion Katie Ledecky and earn Australia's first gold in this event since 1972.
However, despite the intense pressure the two swimmers must have been feeling, 20-year-old Titmus remained remarkably calm — both during and after the race.
“Coming into the race my mind was very clear," she said. "I wasn’t thinking about splits or that kind of thing, I just swam intuition — the training that I’ve done, my body just knew what to do. I just tried to stay composed.
“Honestly, I didn’t even look at the time. I just saw ‘one’ against my name, and once I saw that I was just kind of, like, ‘yeah, whatever.' But it’s a PB so that’s good.
“I do feel pressure, but I feel like I do a good job at kind of eating it all up and using it. I’ve been very relaxed at this meet, more relaxed than I thought I would be. I was way more nervous swimming at trials than I was tonight.
“This is what we work for, I’m at the Olympic Games. I’m just trying to enjoy it as much as I can. As much as this isn’t a normal Olympics with the Covid protocols, I’m still having great fun. For me, tonight was just being out there in a race, it’s the best part about swimming.
“I was excited that to win this event. I had to beat a great champion [Ledecky] and that makes it even more satisfying. She has done unbelievable things for this sport, and especially middle-distance swimming.
“I feel like if people back home can enjoy this moment like I can, I’m really happy that I’ve brought some joy to the country during a tough time.”
The 24-year-old Ledecky was full of praise for her opponent and said they had "both helped each other" over the past few years.
Despite not taking home the medal she wanted, the US superstar said standing on the Olympic podium is "not something I take for granted."
"It’s just great for this event, and all the freestyle events, to have had some really great competitors in the field," she said.
"We’ve only raced a handful of times, I guess probably on average once a year over the last five years. Each race is always a tough race and that’s something that motivates you in training.
“When we meet up it’s always a great race. I hope we have many more great races this week and in the future.
“Of course you always want to hear your national anthem, but I’m proud of how I swam and how I got to that point. It’s not an easy journey, it’s never an easy journey to the podium, and so it’s not something I take for granted, being up there.
“I think I just came into this race very much at peace with the work that I’d put in to get to this point.
“That’s the biggest win of all. I just knew, no matter the outcome, that I was going to put up a fight, and put up a great race, and I’m glad I did. Even if I didn’t I was still going to be happy for whoever won gold.
“I just felt a lot of joy and happiness and love coming into this race, and just kind of carried that with me. That’s the biggest win of all."