On the day Tunisians marked the moment the monarchy was abolished in 1957, they will have permitted themselves to at least celebrate an Olympic king after a sensational performance in Tokyo from swimmer Ahmed Hafnaoui.
The 18-year-old produced a devastating late burst way out in lane eight on Sunday — Republic Day in Tunisia — to win the 400 metres freestyle in 3min 43.36sec, overhauling Australian Jack McLoughlin.
“When I saw the flag of my country being raised and I heard the national anthem I had tears in my eyes,” he said afterwards.
“I felt so proud. I dedicate this title to all the Tunisian people.
“You have a champion now!”
His gold, combined with compatriot Ons Jabeur’s eye-catching run to the Wimbledon women’s quarter-finals, has allowed sport to provide a welcome distraction for the hard-pressed Tunisian people this summer.