'This is the Olympics!' Bremerton's Nathan Adrian savors victory
Bremerton's Nathan Adrian earned his first individual Olympic gold medal Wednesday, coming from behind with a furious finish in the men's 100-meter freestyle to win by a fingertip.
Nathan Adrian file
Age: 23 (born Dec. 7, 1988)
Height: 6 feet 6
Weight: 220 pounds
High school: 2006 graduate of Bremerton High School
College: University of California, Berkeley, majoring in public health
Career goals: Wants to be a doctor
Family: Older brother and sister both swam in college, Donella at Arizona State and Justin at Washington. Mother, who was born in Hong Kong, is a nurse. Father Jim is a retired nuclear engineer for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Training: Swims 3 to 5 miles and works out five hours in two to three sessions per day.
Fun facts: Nicknamed Bok Choi. Hobbies are Jet Skiing, boating and dirt biking.
Source: USA Swimming
Bremerton's Nathan Adrian got the gold, and his mother got the bouquet.
The 23-year-old American swimmer earned his first individual gold medal Wednesday, coming from behind with a furious finish in the men's 100-meter freestyle at the Olympic Games to win by a fingertip.
The margin of victory — one-hundredth of a second — was the tightest at the London Olympics.
If the finish was dramatic, the reaction from the usually laid-back Adrian was even better — must-see TV for an international audience. He pounded the water like a depth charge in celebration, raised his fist, then put his head in his hand as the enormity of this golden moment sank in.
On the awards podium, Adrian accepted his medal and a bouquet of flowers, then listened to the national anthem. Afterward he smiled, waved and blew kisses to his parents, who were among several family members watching.
Finally, Adrian ran to his parents and handed the flowers to his mother, Cecilia.
How does the spotlight feel for a Washington native who has largely been overshadowed at these Games by American swim stars Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin?
"It feels good," Adrian told reporters, before glancing up at a TV monitor and seeing Rebecca Soni of the U.S. win her semifinal race in record time.
"Whoa, Reb, has just broken a world record," Adrian announced. "I'm overshadowed by Reb setting a world record."
His U.S. teammates watched in the "ready room" as Adrian became the first American to win swimming's signature event at an Olympics in 24 years.
"We watched it and just went nuts," Lochte said. "We were screaming and everything. That was one of the greatest finishes. We're so happy for him."
Adrian was third at the 50-meter turn. He needed every bit of his 6-foot-6 frame to finish in 47.52 seconds and edge favorite James "The Missile" Magnussen of Australia as the pair churned to the finish side by side. Adrian was in Lane 5, and Magnussen in Lane 4.
Canada's Brent Hayden earned the bronze medal in a time of 47.80 at the Aquatics Centre.
Adrian described his emotions after the tight finish.
"I kind of touched well and (thought), 'Oh, sweet, I've won.' Then there's 10 to 15 seconds, (and) 'Holy crap, this is the Olympics," he told reporters. "I've been watching this since I was a kid."
Adrian said he tried not to think about the importance of the race, and that realization was why he buried his face in his hand.
"I don't like to put pressure on myself," he said. "You can probably tell on my face, 'Oh, sweet, I won the heat,' and then it took a minute and, 'Oh, wait, it's the Olympics.' "
That it is, and now America is asking: Who is this guy?
He's a kid who starting swimming at age 5, carried along by a brother (Justin) who swam for the University of Washington before it disbanded its program, and a sister (Donella) who swam for Arizona State. His mother, who was born in Hong Kong, is a nurse for the Bremerton School District, and his father Jim is a retired nuclear engineer for the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Nathan wants to be a doctor.
You might be surprised to know that Adrian has won Olympic gold before, but as a bit player at the 2008 Beijing Games. Then only 19, Adrian swam in preliminaries and wasn't in the finals as Phelps led a U.S. victory in the 400 free relay. Still, Adrian got a medal.
He earned a silver medal in the same event Sunday, swimming an impressive leadoff leg in a head-to-head matchup with Magnussen that gave the U.S. the early lead. But France stunned the Americans for the gold with a sensational final leg by Yannick Agnel.
This time no one could take this golden moment away, however. The cool kid who once swam for Bremerton High School and later won NCAA championships at the University of California Berkeley is suddenly in the spotlight, whether he likes it or not.
Information from The New York Times, McClatchy News Service and The Associated Press is included in this report.