After Ariarne Titmus’s victory, a ‘vulgar’ Australian responds to American vitriol.
Not everyone in the United States was taken aback by the outpouring of support for Ariarne Titmus’ stunning “plot twist” in which an American queen was dethroned.
While Australia continues to bask in the glory of Ariarne Titmus’ golden swim in the 400m freestyle final, the United States is still reeling from the shock of seeing their wonderwoman dethroned.
Titmus took the lead on the final lap and stormed home to defeat Katie Ledecky in her first Olympic individual final. The five-time gold medalist, who is already one of the greatest swimmers of all time, clocked the second fastest time of her career, but it wasn’t enough to beat the Tasmanian girl.
Dean Boxall, Titmus’ coach, summed up the mood in Australia when he went insane in the stands. As if seeing Ledecky outgunned at a Games for the first time wasn’t enough for America, Boxall’s pelvic thrusts added insult to injury.
However, not everyone in the United States was a fan of Boxall’s antics. Some accused him of hogging the spotlight when it should have been reserved for his pupil.
Lindsay Gibbs, a sports podcaster, was concerned about how America would focus on events occurring outside the water rather than on those occurring within it.
“I can already see Titmus’ uncomfortably aggressive coach garnering more media attention in the United States than she does, and I am pre-emptively extremely, extremely, extremely irritated!!!” she tweeted.
In response to an Australian tennis coach’s tweet congratulating Titmus, American tennis legend Pam Shriver wrote: “Congratulations for OZ, but Thank God you don’t celebrate like that as a coach.”
“When the coach attempted to take on the role of the show, it was (vomit emoji).”
Laura Chapin, an American political consultant, tweeted: “Hey everyone – what the Australian coach did is not amusing or endearing. It overshadows a female athlete winning a gold medal and focuses the spotlight on him. It’s vulgar and frankly offensive, and he owes her an apology. Additionally to everyone else.”
However, Boxall is unconcerned with what his detractors say. “No, I adore it,” he told SEN radio when asked about his reaction to US criticism.
“That apprehension stirs me. It adds fuel to my fire. Without that, I am unable to stimulate my creative juices. Doubt and having people dislike me are perfectly acceptable. I’ve just misplaced it, mate. It had been five years (hard work). You’ve mapped out this strategy, and there’s nothing more exciting than watching it come to fruition. Arnie is powerless to defend Earth against Mars. This is the most significant for us. To witness it collapse – I simply lost it.”
America responds to the ‘plot twist’
Loretta Race, a swimswam.com reporter based in the United States, wrote for swimswam.com that “what many thought was unthinkable just happened,” while Yahoo Sports’ Henry Bushnell noted the irony of Ledecky being beaten by the swimmer she inspired.
“She was just defeated at the Olympics for the first time by a woman four years her junior, a woman inspired by Ledecky’s own greatness,” he wrote. “In a sense, Ledecky created her conqueror. She was left to contemplate the strange sensation of being great but not quite enough.”
According to Mark Ziegler of the San Diego Tribune, Ledecky was beaten before she entered the water. “However, her eyes revealed her, concealing a fear that was uncharacteristic of arguably the most dominant female swimmer in history,” Ziegler wrote.
“She appeared nervous, apprehensive, tense, and concerned. As it turned out, this was entirely justified. Four minutes later, a 20-year-old from the Australian island of Tasmania usurped her nearly decade-long reign over distance swimming.”
Ledecky is accustomed to creating such a large gap between herself and her competitors early in a race that they become discouraged and unable to keep up. However, when she turned at the 300m mark, Titmus was right behind her. With 50m remaining, the Australian had taken the lead.
“I felt pretty good going out there and looking up at 300 and thinking, ‘Oh, she’s right there,'” Ledecky explained afterwards. It was a sensation she had never felt before.
“Nine years into her Olympic career, 300 metres into her first final here, Katie Ledecky looked over and saw a plot twist,” Sports Illustrated’s Michael Rosenberg wrote.
Rosenberg lauded Ledecky’s grace in defeat as she paid tribute to Titmus and accepted that she gave it her all, refusing to sulk after winning her first individual silver. There is no doubt she remains a champion, which seems absurd given her young age of 24, but the American now faces some uncomfortable questions about her future.
“This raises the same question for the American public: What do we do now? Ledecky has garnered more admiration than affection; she has been nearly as dominant as Simone Biles but has been far less entertaining to watch,” Rosenberg wrote.
“In 2012, Ledecky was the 15-year-old prodigy in London. In 2016, she was a rare breed of athlete: a 19-year-old GOAT. She is now the star in Tokyo, attempting to ward off the (relative) child. It does not alter who she is, but it may alter how we perceive her. Titmus complicates but also adds to the intrigue of Ledecky’s Olympics. It’s for the best, as Ledecky recognizes.”
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported: “For the first time in her illustrious Olympic career, Ledecky felt the sting of defeat, meted out by an Australian rival who made it clear she was not intimidated by the American star.
Ledecky’s second-place finish was another setback for the Americans following a strong start to the swimming competition.”