The U.S. medal rush begins with a splash at the Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO — The day-long Olympic medal drought for the United States is over thanks to the American swim team.

Chase Kalisz won the first gold medal for the U.S., and Jay Litherland snagged the first silver medal Sunday after they finished one and two in the 400-meter individual medley.

“U-S-A! U-S-A!” a small group of their jubilant teammates chanted at the Tokyo Aquatics Center, which was nearly empty because the Covid-19 state of emergency currently bars fans from the stands.

Gold medalist Chase Kalisz of the United States celebrates on the podium in Tokyo.KAI PFAFFENBACH / Reuters

Later, U.S. swimmers Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger added to the U.S. medal count by winning silver and bronze in the 400-meter individual relay.

The hardware haul came a day after the U.S., for the first time in almost 50 years, failed to medal on the first day of Olympic competition.

“Looks like no medals for @TeamUSA on day 1 of the medal chase,” Olympics historian Bill Mallon tweeted on Saturday. “Last happened at the Summer Olympics in 1972 at Munich.”

America’s best chance of medaling Saturday was Team USA’s archers, but they came up empty.

“I’m still a little shocked,” Brady Ellison, who won silver and bronze medals at the Rio Olympics in 2016, told USA Today. “We got in that stadium, and I shot left.”

In recent years, the U.S. has dominated the Summer Games. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Team USA won a world-best 121 medals. And the U.S. has tallied the most medals, including the most gold medals, in each of the last six summer Olympics going back to 1996.

Team USA failed to win a medal on day one of the 2018 winter games in South Korea.

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