Australia’s Ariarne Titmus may have knocked out American Katie Ledecky in the 400-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, but it was her coach who was stealing the show on social media.
Australia’s swimming coach Dean Boxall went wild following Titmus in the stands at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Boxall ripped off his mandatory mask, let out a yell and pumped his fist in dramatic fashion as the swimmer knocked off Ledecky.
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The emotional response immediately sent Twitter into a frenzy.
“I’ve seen little snippets of it. That’s just like Dean. He’s very passionate … he becomes very animated,” Titmus said after her swim. “I think that this is just as much for him as it is for me. He’s sacrificed a lot of his family life, his kids, his wife and his job. He puts 100% into being a swimming coach and I would not be here without him.”
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Boxall was declared an “instant icon” on TV broadcasts in Australia, according to The Guardian.
He told Australian media he was inspired by the WWE legend Ultimate Warrior for his celebration.
“I used to wrestle with my brother, and he (Ultimate Warrior) was my favorite, and he died, he passed away, I loved the Ultimate Warrior,” he said, via FOX Sports Australia. “It built up. When I saw the race unfolding I couldn’t keep it in.
“I need to apologize because I actually took my mask off by mistake and it ripped and I just lost it in the moment.”
According to AAP, Boxall is known for his motivational tactics and his training regimens. He and Titmus have been working hard to get the gold. It was Titmus’ first Olympic gold. She had won gold in the 2019 and 2018 World Championships in the 400-meter freestyle events.
Boxall toned down his celebration for the medal ceremony but started to break down in tears.
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“He was crying and I was trying to contain the emotions, but it’s good to see how much it means to him too,” Titmus said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.