American Ryan Murphy wins 200 backstroke for another gold medal

·MLB columnist
Ryan Murphy won the 200 backstroke to go along with his gold in the 100 back. (AP)
Ryan Murphy won the 200 backstroke to go along with his gold in the 100 back. (AP)

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RIO DE JANEIRO – American dominance in the 200-meter backstroke continued Thursday at the Rio Games, where Ryan Murphy won Team USA’s sixth consecutive gold in the event.

Murphy, the 21-year-old who earlier this week scored gold in the 100-meter backstroke, booked another in the 200, finishing in 1:53.62 to hold off Australian Mitch Larkin (silver) and Russia’s Evgeny Rylov (bronze).

“The two races are so different. Hundred back is an event that comes a little more naturally to me,” Murphy said. “The 200 back is an event that I really have to dig deep for. So that’s the event I’ve been training for all year. That’s the one I wanted really bad. So I think this one means a little more to me.”

Six different Americans have taken gold in the 200 back, a streak started by Brad Bridgewater in 1996 and continued with Lenny Krayzelburg, Aaron Peirsol, Ryan Lochte and Tyler Clary.

“I remember looking up to all these guys,” Murphy said. “Those are my idols. To think that I could be that idol for some young kid, that’s trying to do this in the future, that’s really cool for me, and I don’t take that lightly.”

After setting an Olympic record in the 100, Murphy came close to another in the 200 Thursday. He is expected to swim for one more gold Saturday in the 4×100-meter medley, where he’s expected to be joined by Nathan Adrian (freestyle), Michael Phelps (butterfly) and Cody Miller (breaststroke).

Murphy has traded texts with Peirsol throughout these Olympics.

“He said he was really proud of me,” Murphy said. “[He said], ‘I’m not proud of you because of the gold medal, but because of how you’re handling it’. That means a lot to me. And I think that’s a testament to how my parents have taught me how to grow up. I’m someone who’s never completely satisfied with my results and I always want to be a little bit better.”