It feels good at the top, but Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown knows it feels better when victory is shared.
The 20-year-old won her second Olympic gold medal, in the women’s 200-meter backstroke final in Tokyo on Saturday.
McKeown’s teammate, 29-year-old Emily Seebohm, came out with the bronze during the race. But during the medal ceremony, she didn’t stay on the third step on the podium for long.
While Australia’s national anthem played, McKeown invited Seebohm to share the top step on the podium with her. There, Seebohm placed McKeown’s medal around her neck, which she’d asked to do before the two walked out for the medal ceremony. The two stood side by side and sang the anthem together.
“A beautiful moment for Australia,” the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee tweeted alongside a photo of their hug.
The race marked the final swim of Seebohm’s Olympic career. She could be seen tearing up on the poolside after the race.
The historic moment for Seebohm was one of the reasons McKeown said she brought her to the top podium.
“For her to come to her last Olympics and get third on that podium, I thought, ‘Why not? She gets to stand on this podium with me, so why not bring her up to first where she also belongs?’ ” McKeown told reporters after the race. “It was quite emotional. She had some tears in her eyes, so did I. But to have her next to me singing the national anthem was pretty special.”
Josie Fischels is an intern on NPR’s News Desk.