Hali Flickinger wins bronze in 400M individual medley at Olympics
As soon as Hali Flickinger appeared on the projector screen at Spring Grove Middle School on Saturday night, Bonna Krout started to nervously shake.
That's how she usually responds when her granddaughter takes part in a big race, but Saturday night was even more important.
"I was just so nervous the whole time," Krout said.
Krout was still shaking after the race ended, but this time it was because of her excitement after Flickinger had won her first Olympic medal at the Tokyo Summer Games.
The Spring Grove High School graduate claimed the bronze medal in the women's 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4 minutes, 34.90 seconds. Japan's Yui Ohashi won gold in 4:32.08 and Flickinger's American teammate, Emma Weyant, took silver at 4:32.76.
Flickinger led early in the race, but started to fade out of the top three spots during the third leg of the event which features four swiming disciplines — the butterfly, the breaststroke, the backstroke and the freestyle.
As the swimmers switched over to the final portion of the race, the freestyle, Flickinger fought from fourth place and earned a spot on the medal stand.
The crowd of family, friends and fans gathered to cheer her on, stressed until the final second, but Flickinger's grandfather, Ken Krout, never doubted her.
"I knew when she was close there at the end, I knew she could get third with the freestyle," Ken Krout said.
The preliminary round: Flickinger had posted the fifth-fastest time in Saturday morning’s preliminary heats to qualify for Saturday night’s final. Flickinger posted a preliminary time of 4:35.98 seconds.
That was a little off the personal-best time of 4:33.96 that Flickinger posted at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, when she finished second to Weyant, who finished in 4:33.81.
Weyent posted the fastest time in Olympic qualifying on Saturday morning at 4:33.55.
Before the Olympics began, Flickinger was projected to win a bronze medal in the 400 IM by The Associated Press.
Her best event is up next: Flickinger is slated to swim in her best event, the 200 butterfly, later in the week. The AP is projecting her for a gold medal in that event. Flickinger finished seventh in 200 fly in the 2016 Olympics.
With a bronze medal already around her neck before Flickinger's top event even begins, her grandmother was thrilled about the result, despite her inability to stop shaking.
"It's icing on the cake," Bonna Krout said.
The 200 fly preliminary heats are set for 6:28 a.m. Tuesday on USA. The semifinals follow at 9:57 p.m. Tuesday on NBC and the finals are at 10:28 p.m. Wednesday on NBC.
There will be watch parties for Flickinger at Spring Grove Middle School from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org. Steve Heiser contributed to this report. All times for this story are Eastern times.