The men’s 100 meter backstroke is an event the United States has traditionally dominated, and entering Monday’s final Americans had won gold in each of the five prior Olympic races. That streak was extended to six, as Ryan Murphy took the gold medal with a time of 51.97 seconds. Murphy was one of two Americans to medal in the race, with David Plummer taking the bronze.
Also of note, Murphy’s time established a new Olympic record in the event. With his bronze medal Plummer (30 years, 304 days) becomes the oldest medalist in the history of the event, surpassing 1908 bronze medalist Bert Haresnape (28 years, 15 days).
China’s Xu Jiayu took the silver with a time of 52.31, thus ending a streak of two straight Olympic finals in the event in which the United States finished 1-2. Not only is Xu China’s first-ever medalist in the event, but he was also the second Chinese man to ever qualify for the final (Cheng Feiyi, London).
The United States has won at least two medals in the 100 back 12 times since it was first run in 1912. Finishing fourth in the event was Australia’s Mitch Larkin, the reigning world champion in the 100 meter backstroke.