One of the most thrilling victories in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics came in the water thanks to United States swimmer Bobby Finke. He took gold in the men’s 800-meter freestyle in a “surprising” come-from-behind performance.
Finke joined host Savannah Guthrie on TODAY to talk about his victory and what it is like to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Guthrie asked Finke to explain why he was “surprised” to win gold.
“Coming into the meet, I think I was seeded 12th,” the swimmer shared. “So, my original goal was just to make the finals.”
His performances early on gave Finke hope that he could do more than just “make the finals.”
“And then, when I saw how well I did there in prelims, I actually realized I have a shot to get a medal,” Finke also said. “I was just really excited to do that for Team USA.”
What made Finke’s gold medal victory during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics so thrilling was that he was not leading the pack going into the final part of his race.
Bobby Finke Thanked His Coaches for Helping Inspire His Victory at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
“It’s being called one of the greatest finishes in Olympic history,” Guthrie said. “At the final turn, you were in fourth. The announcers weren’t even talking about you, Bobby, then you turned something on inside you. What was going through your mind?”
Finke said he got some help from people close to him that helped him win gold for his country.
“My coaches just yelling at me in my head constantly to switch gears,” he also shared. “They’ve been, they’ve been harping on the U.S. team ever since the fall and spring. So just a huge shout-out to them for doing that for us.”
According to NPR, Finke was stuck in fifth place during most of the 800-meter final. That race is made up of 16 laps of the pool. It was during the final 50 meters that he, as Guthrie said, “turned something on” and raced to victory. He just bested Gregorio Paltrinieri of Italy.
“I noticed 10 meters out I was catching up a little bit of ground and that was the only motivation I needed to try and pass and get my hand to the wall first,” Finke said after his 2020 Tokyo Olympics win.
The swimmer is 21 years old and competes for the University of Florida at the collegiate level. Interestingly, this was the first time the 800-meter had been an event at the Olympics.
Bobby Finke isn’t the only U.S. swimmer who has had success at the famous games this year. One other example is his teammate Caeleb Dressel. Dressel won the popular 100-meter freestyle and set an Olympic record in the process. Also, on the women’s team 17-year-old Lydia Jacoby won gold in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke.