The US secured its first 2020 Olympic Gold on Saturday when swimmer Chase Kaliz touched home first in the men’s 400m individual medley.
The 27-year-old, who had to make do with a silver in Rio five years ago, achieved his Olympic dream in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in front of a handful of supporters and team mates with the public banned due to Covid fears.
It was a sensational achievement by the swimmer who, for a brief period as a child, suffered paralysis.
Chase, from Athens, Georgia, was first home in a time of 4 mins, 9.42 seconds and beat his team mate Jay Litherland who had to settle for silver.
The bronze went to Australia’s Brendon Smith.
Chase Kalisz won the men’s 400m individual medley final in a superb one-two for Team USA
Kalisz of Team United States competes in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre
First Lady Jill Biden applauds Chase Kalisz of USA as he won the gold
She sat on her own in the stands and applauded as Kalisz competed for the Men’s 400m Individual Medley Swimming event of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Chase took up swimming at age five, and was involved in a variety of different sports before focusing on swimming.
He said: ‘I pretty much played every sport up until high school – soccer, basketball, lacrosse, swimming. I was terrible at soccer.
‘(I was) pretty good at lacrosse, basketball I never really focused on, I don’t know why, my dad played basketball in college, but basketball just never really did it for me.
‘Swimming was always my year-round sport and the other ones were more seasonal.
He comes from a family of swimmers, however, with three siblings who share his passion for the sport.
It was a sensational achievement by the. Swimmer who, for a brief period as a child, suffered paralysis. Kalisz poses with his gold medal after winning the final
(From L) Bronze medalist USA’s Jay Litherland, gold medalist USA’s Chase Kalisz and silver medalist Australia’s Brendon Smith pose with their medals after the final of the men’s 400m individual medley swimming event
Chase, from Athens, Georgia, was first home in a time of 4 mins, 9.42 seconds and beat his team mate Jay Litherland who had to settle for silver
Chase took up swimming at age five, and was involved in a variety of different sports before focusing on swimming. This weekend, he fulfilled his dream of winning gold
His older sister Courtney competed in swimming for the University of Southern California and at national level, including at the US Olympic trials in 2004 and 2008.
His younger sister Cassidy has represented Louisiana State University in swimming, and his younger brother Connor has represented Florida State University. Both competed at the 2016 US Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska.
He trains with his silver-medal winning fellow US swimmer Jay Litherland, a member of the Dynamo Swim Club, which is also based in Georgia.
He cites his former training partner and Olympic legend Michael Phelps as playing a key role in his career in terms of mental toughness.
The 27-year-old, who had to make do with a silver in Rio five years ago, achieved his Olympic dream in the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in front of a handful of supporters and team mates with the public banned due to Covid fears
(L-R) Chase Kalisz of Team United States, Brendon Smith of Team Australia and David Verraszto of Team Hungary compete in the Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
He cites his former training partner and Olympic legend Michael Phelps as playing a key role in his career in terms of mental toughness
Kalisz of Team United States celebrates after winning the Men’s 400m Individual Medley Final on day two of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Chase Kalisz, left, of the United States, celebrates with teammate Jay Litherland after winning the final of the men’s 400-meter individual medley
Kalisz trains with his silver-medal winning fellow US swimmer Jay Litherland, a member of the Dynamo Swim Club, which is also based in Georgia
The friends and competitors celebrated winning gold and silver on the second day of the Tokyo games
‘I could list you a billion things that I learned from Michael and that I had the opportunity to get from him that pretty much no one else in the world had the opportunity to get, so I was very lucky.
‘I couldn’t imagine a better training situation for someone going to college and wanting to be a professional swimmer one day, wanting to be an Olympian, than being able to be his training partner.
‘The biggest thing I learned from him was probably mental toughness. It’s a big factor in swimming and there are a lot of people that are significantly more talented than the best swimmers in the world, but just can’t really put it together for different reasons, it’s a stressful sport and you focus on one day [at the Olympics] for four years.’
At age Chase had to crawl down the hall of the family home to tell his parents he could barely move his arms or legs.
They initially thought he was feeling the effects of a 5km race he had competed in the day before.
However his condition deteriorated and he was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome. He was semi-paralyzed, but after therapy and rehabilitation he was able to swim six months later and went on to make a full recovery and today went a giant step further.
After departing the Tokyo games, First Lady Jill Biden set off for Hawaii. She is pictured arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor
First lady Jill Biden receives a lei of flowers from Hawaii Governor David Ige on the tarmac after arriving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii on Saturday
Jay, 25, finished in fifth place in the same event at Rio and was overjoyed to gain his first Olympic medal in Tokyo.
He also had to overcome childhood illness before developing into an ace swimmer.
He and his two brothers, who are all triplets, were born two months premature due to breathing issues, so their parents encouraged them to take up swimming to strengthen their lungs.
‘We just loved the pool, and water in general, whenever we were in it. When we lived in California, we had a pool in our backyard, and when we moved to Miami, our parents signed us up for swim lessons.’
He and his brothers hold three different passports, having citizenship in the United States of America, Japan, and New Zealand.
The brothers were born in Osaka, Japan, to a Japanese mother and a New Zealand father.
After Japan, the family moved to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before coming to the United States of America in 1999.
They lived in California and Florida before settling in Georgia. As the family moved around, swimming became a way for the brothers to find friends in new places.
His brothers first tried to qualify for the Olympic Games for New Zealand, but that was not an option for him because he had already represented the United States of America in international competition.