Tunisia's Ahmed Hafnaoui poses with his gold medal after the final of the men's 400m freestyle swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on July 25, 2021. PHOTO/AFP

Teen strikes Africa’s first gold medal at Olympics 2020

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.