Olympic Games 2012 : 4 X 100m freestyle – Gold for Australia

Press Release from Olympic Olympic Committee: The quartet of Alicia Coutts, Cate Campbell, Brittany Elmslie and Melanie Schlanger have won Australia’s first gold of the 2012 London Olympic Games with a stunning performance in the women’s 4×100 metre freestyle relay – the final event of the first finals session.

The Aussies set an Olympic record of 3:33.15 to crush the Netherlands’ hopes of back to back Olympic crowns, the Dutch settling for silver in 3:33.79 and the USA the bronze in 3:34.24.

Coutts (53.90) got them off to a wonderful start, touching in third, Campbell (53.19) elevated them to second, before  Elmslie (53.41) propelled them to the lead. Then Schlanger (52.65) hung on amid withering pressure from Dutch world number one Ranomi Kromodwidjojo (51.93).

Australia has a proud history of success in the event with victories in 1956 and 2004, silver medals in 1960 and 1964 and a bronze four years ago in Athens when Campbell and Schlanger were both a part of the team.

For that duo this was some form of redemption for that Beijing result and a wonderful exclamation mark on comebacks from illness that wouldn’t dare end with selection on this Olympic Team. They wanted more.

For Coutts, who finished sixth in the event at the Australian Olympic Trials, her swim justified the faith instilled in her by the team’s coach Shannon Rollason and for Elmslie, the moment is nothing short of stunning given that 12 months ago she was barely on the radar for Olympic selection, let alone a candidate for a gold medal.

For all, including heat swimmers Emily Seebohm, Yolane Kukla and Libby Trickett, it was a moment that was moulded on the self belief that all posses and the support of the men that coach them.

Elmslie, 18, struggled to contain herself afterwards, disbelieving of the whirlwind she has been part of in the last 12 hours.

“That’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced in my whole life,” Elmslie said.

“I can’t stop smiling after that. I still can’t believe I’m an Olympic gold medallist. All four of us swam so well tonight and it is special to share the feeling with the other three girls.”

Schlanger, who clocked the second fastest split of the final behind Kromodwidjojo, augering well for her assault on the individual 100m freestyle, was similarly moved by the victory.

“I can’t describe it. I’ve always wanted to sing the National Anthem on the dais but to do it at the Olympics is unbelievable,”Schlanger said.

“We all dug deep and we came through with the win.”

And what a win it was.