American World Record Holder and Illinois-Native Ryan Murphy Going for More Gold

American World Record Holder and Illinois-Native Ryan Murphy Going for More Gold

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American World Record Holder and Illinois-Native Ryan Murphy Going for More Gold originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

HOW TO WATCH: Watch live in NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream live here.

TV Info: NBC, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. CT

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Palos Heights-native Ryan Murphy will look to defend his Olympic crown Monday night.

Murphy set the world record in the men’s 100m backstroke at the 2016 Rio Olympics. After finishing tied for seventh overall in Sunday’s heats, Murphy posted the top time in the semifinals, putting him in line to repeat in the event.

The University of California-Berkley graduate was projected to be a frontrunner for Team USA in the 2020 Olympics until the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted plans for the Games. Murphy said, however, that he feels more ready than before.

“I do feel like I’m better now,” he said. “Basically every metric that I can try to measure myself in practice, I’m better.”

The pandemic caused him to build a makeshift weight room in his garage, with new methods of strength training. Murphy said he has done pull-ups on a tree and even pushed his Jeep up a hill for his workout in preparation for the Games.

Murphy’s parents were able to witness his wins in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but won’t be allowed as overseas spectators for this summer’s Games due to COVID-19 mitigations — something that athletes have said will be a sacrifice this year.

“One of my favorite moments from 2016 was being able to give my family a hug,” Murphy said. “They’ve put so much into this and being able to share it with them is really special.”

Murphy grew up in Florida but never lost sight of his South Side roots, where many relatives will be watching him compete from.

Murphy said two of his favorite sports teams are still the Chicago Bulls and the Cubs, although one causes some controversy with his family.

“All of my uncles are White Sox fans, so they kill me every time I say I’m more of a Cubs fan,” Murphy said.

3-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Ryan Murphy: Why Being the Best Can Be Lonely, Plus His Hack to Handle High Pressure

Another Midwest swimmer looking to medal Monday is Lilly King, of Evansville, Indiana, who will race in the final for the women’s 100m breaststroke, an event where she set the world record in 2017. She finished with the third-fastest time in Sunday’s qualifying, trailing fellow American Lydia Jacoby and South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker, who broke King’s Olympic record with a time of 1:04.82.

HOW TO WATCH: Watch live in NBC’s primetime coverage, or stream live here.

TV Info: NBC, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. CT

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