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Watch: Swimming coach erupts as Ariarne Titmus wins gold
It was meant to be about the duel in the pool between two brilliant female swimmers, American sensation Katie Ledecky and young Australian rising star Ariarne Titmus.
Instead, the talking point after the women’s 400m freestyle final on Monday was in the stands above the pool as the celebratory antics of Titmus’s coach Dean Boxall went viral.
Not that he was aware of it. This being an Olympics, emotions just got the better of him.
And who can blame the hip-thrusting coach for letting loose?
As Titmus’s fingertips reached the wall, her coach was caught by TV cameras leaping and punching into the air, tearing off his mask and “headbanging with his surfer-like hair tumbling around him”, as one news report put it.
"Yeah, I lost it," he told reporters in Tokyo.
"I think I went outside of my body. I just lost it. I've been with this girl five years, you know, having a dream together."
Described as a “rock star” coach in the Australian media, Boxall said his shaking of the stand barriers at the swimming venue was in part down to copying the rope antics of his childhood hero, the American wrestler The Ultimate Warrior.
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Nearby staff in the arena jumped to avoid Boxall as he lurched unpredictably, and it took the embrace of a fellow Australian team member to calm him down.
Boxall added: "Americans might not like it, I don't know, but they jump around as much as me... I can't help it."
"I just don't turn off and that's probably why I let it out."
Meanwhile, Titmus, 20, said she had seen snippets of her coach’s reaction.
"That's just the way Dean is,” she told a media conference.
“He is just passionate about what he does, he becomes so animated. For him as much as it is for me. He puts 100% into being a swimming coach."
And, clearly, into the medal ceremony.
"It was actually hard to contain it," Titmus said.
"I could see Dean on the other side bawling his eyes out. You don't really see that often, so that made me want to tear up."
Titmus has had to defend her coach in the past after reports of "bullying and fat-shaming" on his watch.
Boxall told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2019: “People might look at it as a negative, but I’m not a well-read swimming coach. You have a plan, but that plan often goes AWOL. There is always something that goes wrong,
“If I follow someone else’s philosophy and don’t have my core ideas… I lose my compass. I’ve never picked up a textbook about swimming technique. It’s more about feel and understanding and intuition.”
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