Tunisian swimmer Ahmed Hefnaoui won a surprise gold in the men’s 400m freestyle on Sunday.
The 18-year-old won from the outside lane after qualifying at a slower pace, but finished at an impressive pace over Australian Jack McLoughlin with a time of three minutes 43.36 seconds.
“I can’t believe it,” Hefnawy said. “It’s a dream come true. It was amazing, it was my best race ever.”
It was Tunisia’s fifth gold medal ever – and third in swimming.
American swimmer Kieran Smith won the bronze medal at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
Hafnaoui, son of former Tunisian national basketball player Mohamed Hefnaoui, competed in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games, placing eighth in the 400m and seventh in the 800m.
In 2019, he told Tunisian website La Presse that he is aiming for his first gold medal at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Hefnawy will get a second chance for gold as he competes in the 800m freestyle, with qualifying to begin on Tuesday.
Hosts Japan also celebrated a surprise gold medal in the women’s 400m individual medley, with Yui Ohashi beating two Americans to take the podium.
“It doesn’t feel real,” said the 25-year-old. “It’s like a dream to me.”
“I couldn’t go to the Rio Olympics, so this has become a big dream for me for the past five years. This is an amazing achievement.”