Emma McKeon finished her dream day the way she started it – with an Olympic record – to thrust her into the box seat to snare the coveted freestyle sprint double in Tokyo.
McKeon sizzled in her 50m freestyle heat, registering a new Games mark of 24.02 to qualify fastest for Saturday’s semi-finals.
It came after her superb finish to the morning’s 100m freestyle final, which saw her claim her second gold medal of what has already been a remarkable meet in the pool for Australia.
Cate Campbell qualified third-fastest in 24.15 as she looks to overcome her compatriot in the shortest distance race following her bronze medal in the 100m freestyle final.
Campbell is Australia’s most recent women’s 50m medallist after snaring bronze as a 16-year-old in 2008.
But it is McKeon who looms largest this time around as she looks to become Australia’s first-ever gold medallist in the event since its inception in 1988.
“You can’t afford any mistakes in a 50, even if it is the heats,” McKeon said after the race.
“It’s been a big day. I just had to have a coffee and come back to the pool – I didn’t get any nap in, but I don’t think I was going to be able to nap today.”
Earlier, Cam McEvoy finished last in his heat to miss out on advancing in the men’s 50m freestyle qualifiers.
US ace Caeleb Dressel underlined why he looms as the biggest gold medal threat in the men’s sprint by romping to the fastest qualifying time of 21.32.
Aussie duo Jack McLoughlin and Tommy Neill both missed the qualifying time for the men’s 1500m final.