In case you missed it, 18-year-old Kyle Chalmers stole away with the gold medal in the 100-meter freestyle on Wednesday night, emerging victorious from a loaded final which featured no fewer than six swimmers who had legitimate aims at winning the title. Some might even argue Chalmers wasn’t one of them.
In part, that’s because Chalmers is still very young. He’s a student at Immanuel College (reminder: college is Australian for high school; after graduation they head to “university”), where the students he left behind in Adelaide were very, very excited about his performance in Rio de Janeiro. How excited? Well, see for yourself:
That, my friends, is sheer adulation. Chalmers, who won the race with a time of 47.58, edged past Belgian Pieter Timmers and U.S. star Nathan Adrian, who finished in the silver and bronze places, respectively. He also kept Australia’s pre-Olympics hope, Cameron McEvoy, completely out of the medals.
Chalmers, who is the son of a former Australian Football League star, admitted he was stunned at his accomplishment and was still coming to grips with the fact that he actually won an Olympic medal, let alone gold.
“It’s definitely still sinking in that I’ve actually won,” Chalmers told reporters after the race. “I was a bit worried that I glided for a bit too long at the finish but very happy with that.
“It’s unbelievable, I mean, I’m only 18. Nathan [Adrian] is 10 years older than me and he’s the reigning Olympic champion so being next to him was pretty daunting for me but I knew I had to stick to my guns.”
He stuck to his guns, and he won. He also did so a day after having a thoroughly teenage reaction to his favorite celebrity, U.S. and new Golden State basketball star Kevin Durant (really!?!) as he admitted to the Syndey Morning Herald.
“I watch Kevin Durant’s MVP speech before every single race and I watch a highlights video of him,” Chalmers said. “Our team manager actually grabbed him last night and got a video of him saying he watched me swim and good luck which was really exciting.
“They actually had to show it to me this morning because they knew I wouldn’t be able to focus if I saw it tonight before my race – I’m a big fan. …
“Last night I was walking over to my semi-finals and Kevin Durant walked in front of me. To be honest with you I almost vomited. My jaw dropped. I was that excited and nervous. It was just amazing for me.”
Here’s the message Durant left for Chalmers, for what it’s worth. Nothing revolutionary, though clearly enough to get a huge Kevin Durant fan going.
The best part about Chalmers’ accomplishment? Now that he’s an Olympic champion, he’s likely to have the same impact Durant did on him to someone else sometime very soon.