Tokyo Olympics Day 8: Surprise medal continues Wolfpack tradition

Incoming freshman Noe Ponti wins bronze in the men's 100-meter butterfly, marking the fourth straight Olympics that an NC State swimmer has won a medal

Bronze medalist Noe Ponti of Switzerland swims congratulations gold medalist Caleb Dressel of the U.S. after Saturday's 100 meter butterfly final at the Tokyo Olympics (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Noe Ponti won’t arrive at NC State for his freshman year until next month. But already, the native of Switzerland has upheld what is rapidly becoming a Wolfpack tradition.

By finishing a surprising third in the 100-meter butterfly behind American superstar Caleb Dressel and Hungary’s Kristof Milak, Ponti extended State’s streak to four straight Olympics with a swimming medal winner.


Ponti’s bronze medal winning time of 50.74 broke the Swiss national record he set two days earlier in the semifinals and left the 20-year-old at a loss for words to describe his accomplishment.

“I’m just speechless. Unbelievable, something crazy,” he said in a postrace interview with the Swiss newspaper Blick.  “This morning I made history for my country, so there are really not a lot of words to describe what I was feeling at that moment. ”

Although Ponti wasn’t among the favorites in the highly competitive race, he said he wasn’t intimidated by the star power in the lanes beside him — especially Dressel, whose winning time of 49.45 set a world record.

“My mentality made the difference,” he said. “It’s not always the best one that wins, but the one that wants it more maybe. So I was lucky enough or good enough to make a medal.”

Ponti may have been the first Swiss swimmer ever to make it to a 100-meter butterfly final, but by winning his bronze medal, he earns entry into a club that also includes Wolfpack alums Cullen Jones and Ryan Held. Jones won gold for the U.S. in the 4 x 100 freestyle relay in 2008 and two silver medals in 2012. Held was a member of the gold medal winning American 4 x 100 relay team five years ago in Rio.