In the hours leading up to the final of the women’s 100 meter breaststroke, a rivalry began to fester between Lilly King of the United States and Russia’s Yulia Efimova. With Efimova originally banned from competing as part of a Russian doping scandal, she arrived in Rio amidst controversy. With both laying claim to the top spot in the event following their respective semifinal heats, the world would have its answer as to who was really number one.
The answer: King.
King won the gold medal, finishing in 1:04.93 with Efimova winning silver with a time of 1:05.50. Winning the bronze medal was Katie Meili of the United States, who finished in a time of 1:05.69. In winning the gold King established a new Olympic record in the event, breaking the mark of 1:05.17 set by Australia’s Leslie Jones in Beijing in 2008. Just over a year ago King won an Indiana state title in the 100 breaststroke as a high school senior; now she’s an Olympic champion.
As for Meili, the Columbia product became the Ivy League’s first Olympic swimming medalist since Cristina Teuscher won bronze in the 200 meter individual medley at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
Lithuania’s Ruta Meilutyte, the current world record holder in the 100 meter breaststroke, finished seventh with a time of 1:07.32. Canada’s Rachel Nicol finished fifth with a time of 1:06.68.