Spain’s Mireia Belmonte backed up her Olympic title with world gold in the 200m butterfly, which continues to be a rare weak event for the U.S.
Belmonte, 26, won in 2:05.26, holding off German Franziska Hentke by .13 with Hungarian superstar Katinka Hosszu grabbing bronze.
The race lacked not only the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 finishers from Rio but also both Americans who were eliminated in the semifinals. It’s the first event this week without an American in the final.
The U.S. last earned a women’s 200m fly title at worlds in 1991 (Summer Sanders). Its 26-year drought is the longest of any male or female event.
Similiarly, the U.S. has earned zero Olympic medals in the 200m fly since Misty Hyman‘s shock gold at Sydney 2000. Americans made the podium in all other Olympic pool events in either London or Rio, and most at both Games.
Belmonte earned her first world title after two silvers and a bronze in 2013 and a 1500m free silver to Katie Ledecky earlier this week.
Hentke is Germany’s first female individual Olympic or world medalist since Britta Steffen in 2009.
Hosszu picked up her 11th career individual world medal, breaking her tie with Russian Yulia Efimova for the female record.
Women’s 200m Butterfly Results
Gold: Mireia Belmonte (ESP) — 2:05.26
Silver: Franziska Hentke (GER) — 2:05.39
Bronze: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) — 2:06.02
4. Ahn Sehyeon (KOR) — 2:06.67
5. Zhang Yufei (CHN) — 2:07.06
6. Suzuka Hasegawa (JPN) — 2:07.43
7. Liliana Szilagyi (HUN) — 2:07.58
8. Zhou Yilin (CHN) — 2:07.67
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