Florida's Bobby Finke wins Olympic gold medal in men’s 1,500 freestyle with another late rally

Special to Gatorsports.com

TOKYO — University of Florida senior Bobby Finke set a world record to win the Olympic gold medal in the grueling men’s 1,500-meter freestyle race Sunday at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

It was Finke's second gold medal this week after a surprising victory in the 800 free.

His finish was similar to Wednesday's, when he trailed for much of the race before turning it on in the last lap for the win. Finke clocked 14:39.65 to beat Mykhailo Romanchuk (14:40.66) of the Ukraine and Florian Wellbrock (14:40.91) to become the first American to win the 1,500 in 37 years. Italy’s Gregorio Paltrinieri, the 2016 Olympic champ, faded to fourth in 14:45.01.

“I was confident in my ability to come home," Finke said.

Bobby Finke celebrates after winning gold in the men's 1,500-meter freestyle.

Finke stayed close throughout the 30-lap race and turned on the speed at the end. The top four were close nearly the entire race, often separated by less than a second at the turns. But that was right where Finke needed to be. After his closing lap in the 800, he knew he had the speed at the end to beat everyone else.

“I was basically just trying to stay with Florian and Romanchuk throughout the whole race and I knew from the 800 I could switch gears," Finke said. "I just tried to do my best and start sprinting.”

He split 25.78 seconds on his final 50 meters, about two and a half seconds better than his splits on any other lap.

Finke has become a star at the Summer Games

Finke has been perhaps the biggest American surprise at the pool. Relatively unknown before the U.S. trials, he become the first American male to win the 1,500 since Mike O’Brien at the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

“I came in not really expecting to get a medal or anything — and I come out of it with two golds," said Finke, sounding as amazed as anyone.

“Honestly it doesn’t seem too real,” he said. “I came in not expecting to medal and just do my best to make the finals. To come out with two golds, it means the world to me and my family and my teammates.”

In Friday's heats, Romanchuk posted the top time at 14 minutes, 45.99 seconds. Finke, from Clearwater, was next at 14:47.20, while Paltrinieri also advanced to the final with the fourth-fastest time, 14:49.17.

Finke's first gold:Bobby Finke wins gold medal at Tokyo Olympics in 800-meter freestyle

Caeleb's latest prize:Gold again! Caeleb Dressel of Green Cove Springs sets Olympic record in men's 50 free

Top of the world:Caeleb Dressel of Green Cove Springs wins gold, breaks world record at Tokyo Olympics

Emotional win:Watch Caeleb Dressel break down in tears after winning gold in 100 free

Aug. 1: Bobby Finke with his gold medal for the men's 1,500-meter freestyle.

On Wednesday, Finke, 21, won the first ever 800 Free Olympic gold medal setting an American record in the process. Finke went a blistering 7:41.47 for the win, with an incredible last 100 meters in 54.98.