Some of Australia’s favourite athletes are back to compete in the long-awaited Tokyo Olympics….
Some of Australia’s favourite athletes are back to compete in the long-awaited Tokyo Olympics.
Swimming is a sport where hundredths of seconds can be the difference between glory and defeat.
But the Olympics has thrown up a bizarre oddity in Tokyo – swimmers keep finishing at exactly the same time.
After Emma McKeon’s controversial denial when she appeared to reach the wall much earlier than her opponent on day one, the dead heats have been coming thick and fast.
And almost every time it’s the same two lanes – four and five – that are the scene of the madness.
On Tuesday night, Aussie Izaac Stubblety-Cook came back in a massive swim to hit the wall at the same time as Dutch swimmer Arno Kamminga in the fourth heat of the 200m butterfly.
The fifth heat saw another dead heat with American Nic Fink and China’s Qin Haiyang, although the Chinese swimmer was subsequently disqualified.
The unbelievable ties followed earlier dead heats in the men’s 400m freestyle heats involving Aussies Elijah Winnington and Jack McLoughlin, and in the men’s 100m backstroke heats between ROC’s Evgeny Rylov and American Ryan Murphy.
There was also a dead heat in the 200m freestyle for fifth in the fifth heat that triggered a swim off between Japan’s Katsuhiro Matsumoto and Germany’s Lukas Martens.
We’re losing count but that’s at least five or six.
But by far the most contentious one involved Australian star McKeon.
Questions were raised over the effectiveness of the touch pads when McKeon set a new Australian record in the 100m butterfly in a dead heat with China’s Yufei Zhang.
However a photo sparked plenty of questions when it appeared that McKeon had touched the wall first, while Zhang was halfway through a stroke.
A FINA official told NewsCorp “there is nothing wrong with the timing”.
He said that McKeon had finished the race with “a light touch”, essentially gliding into the wall. Under the rules the swimmer has to apply a certain amount of pressure to the touch pad to activate the time.
But as more dead heats continue to pile up, conspiracies are raging.
Aussie swimming legend Leisel Jones was stunned on Tuesday night. “Four dead heats now… I’ve never seen so many dead heats in an Olympic Games.”
So now a fourth dead heat in lanes 4 and 5 you say? 🤔 https://t.co/955JL9NyvX
— Tony Harper (@toneharper) July 27, 2021
While it’s not the first time perceived issues with the touch pad have reared up in international swimming, it’s certainly been a big talking point.
Australian swimming legend Ian Thorpe was also asked about the issue by Channel 7 host Hamish McLachlan, who described the recurrence as “unbelievably coincidental”.
“How much time do we have?” Thorpe said.
McLachlan: “Hopefully 30 seconds. Say whatever you want.”
Thorpe: “It is unusual, to say the first thing.
“What people have to realise with the touch pad itself, that is not actually the end of the race. You have to touch the touch pad in to actually touch the wall. So that’s where the finish is.
“There’s a photo of Michael Phelps where he is at the Olympics and it looks like he is behind, all of those things and we’ve seen what happened with Emma McKeon, when it looked like she was home. And I thought she’d won that by 0.2 of a second.
“I don’t think the equipment is messed up. There may have been a fault but they’re saying there is no fault in the equipment, they’ve tested them. They test those things every session.
“So there’s someone that’s actually measuring the lanes making sure they’re working effectively and as they should be.”
Thorpe didn’t seem too convinced however.
The segment finished with McLachlan asking if it was “all good”, to which Thorpe replied: “We hope so. We would dispute Emma McKeon if that was a final.”