Duncan Scott

Lilly King beats Yulia Efimova again, then laughs with Russian rival

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Lilly King beat Russian Yuliya Efimova again in the 100m breaststroke at the world championships. Then the former heated rivals clasped hands, exchanged pecks on the cheek and laughed with each other minutes later.

King has repeated over the last two years that she and Efimova moved on from their Rio Olympic rivalry, where King called out Efimova for having served a doping ban, causing Efimova to cry at a post-race press conference.

It’s more civil now, King said after the 2017 Worlds, where they embraced and shared a laugh in the pool in Budapest. They appeared just as friendly, if not more, after King beat Efimova in the 100m breast for a third straight major international meet in Gwangju, South Korea on Tuesday.

“I wouldn’t say we have completely moved on, but we are definitely more cordial than we have been,” said King, who clocked 1:04.93, eight tenths off her world record, to edge Efimova by .58. “Again, that was three years ago. I was 19 and a half. … I think it was blown out of proportion a little bit, the whole situation, but again we’ve both grown up since then. We’ve both moved on, and I think we take this rivalry in stride.”

King and Efimova renew their calmer rivalry twice more at worlds in the 50m and 200m breasts. King won the former at 2017 Worlds, while Efimova won the latter. On Tuesday, Efimova reflected on what happened in Rio.

“If you take Lilly King and ask her if she’d do the same as she did (then), I think she would never say I did it right,” she said, according to Agence France-Presse. “Probably she’d think she did it wrong.”

Worlds continue Wednesday with Caeleb Dressel expected back in action in the mixed-gender 4x100m medley, which could be his third of a possible eight gold medals. There will also be finals in the men’s 800m freestyle, women’s 200m freestyle (sans the ill Katie Ledecky), men’s 200m butterfly and men’s 50m breaststroke.

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Earlier Tuesday, controversial Chinese Sun Yang repeated as 200m freestyle champion despite touching the wall in second. Lithuanian Danas Rapsys beat Sun but was quickly disqualified for twitching on the starting block.

The medal ceremony was a bit of a repeat of Sun’s 400m free title on Sunday. Co-bronze medalist Duncan Scott of Great Britain and Sun did not appear to shake hands before the Chinese anthem. After, Sun turned around as they left the podium, approached Sun and spoke at him, pointing his finger in his face. More on this episode here.

Sun’s 400m free win was followed by Australian silver medalist Mack Horton‘s protest. Only Michael Phelps has more individual world titles (15) than Sun’s 11.

Canadian Kylie Masse repeated as 100m backstroke champion, while American Olivia Smoliga took bronze. World-record holder Kathleen Baker, competing in her first meet in four months due to pneumonia and a broken rib, faded from first at 50 meters to sixth.

Olympic champion Ryan Murphy was also first at the halfway point of the men’s 100m back, but dropped to fourth as China’s Xu Jiayu repeated as world champion.

Italian Simona Quadarella became the first woman other than Ledecky to win the 1500m free world title since 2011, clocking 15:40.89 in Ledecky’s absence. Ledecky’s world record is 15:20.48.

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Sun Yang, after win by DQ, gets in rival’s face after another podium protest

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Controversy continues to follow Chinese swimmer Sun Yang at the world championships.

Sun, after being upgraded to 200m freestyle gold following another swimmer’s false-start DQ, got into the face of co-bronze medalist Duncan Scott after the Brit did not shake his hand at the medal ceremony Tuesday.

Sun, who earned his 11th individual world title to move to No. 2 all time behind Michael Phelps, shouted in Scott’s direction before the Chinese anthem. Sun later turned around as they left the podium, approached Scott and told him, “You’re a loser, I’m a winner,” pointing a finger in his face.

Scott did not appear to react strongly, but he did not join Sun and the other medalists for photos on the podium.

The scene was reminiscent of Sunday, when Australian silver medalist Mack Horton refused to stand on the podium with gold medalist Sun after the 400m freestyle. Horton called Sun “a drug cheat” after he beat the Chinese at the Rio Olympics. Sun did not openly shout or finger-point at Horton, though.

“I’m team Mack,” Scott said, according to the BBC. “If [Sun] can’t respect our sport then why should I respect him? I think a lot of people, everyone in swimming, got behind what Mack did.

“Hopefully this will happen in more events.”

Sun repeated as 200m free world champion after Lithuanian Danas Rapsys, who touched the wall first, was disqualified for twitching on the starting block.

Sun faces a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) hearing in September over reports that he and his security guard used a hammer to smash a vial of the swimmer’s blood in a clash with drug testers last September.

FINA gave Sun a warning after the incident. The World Anti-Doping Agency appealed in March to CAS, seeking a stricter punishment, but some swimmers, including outspoken American Lilly King, were dismayed to see the hearing set for after worlds.

“FINA has currently done more to reprimand Mack Horton than they have done to reprimand Sun Yang,” King said Tuesday after beating Russian rival Yuliya Efimova in the 100m breaststroke.

Sun was also suspended three months in 2014 for a banned stimulant, though the punishment wasn’t announced by Chinese officials until after he served the time. That led to Horton’s comments at the Rio Olympics.

British breaststroke star Adam Peaty said Scott was “completely right” and that he, too, would not stand on the podium with Sun.

“If people are booing him, it’s for a reason,” Peaty said. “[Sun] should be asking himself now, should he be really in the sport when people are booing him?”

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