Margaret MacNeil storms to win women’s 100m butterfly gold

Canada’s Margaret MacNeil wins gold in women’s 100m butterfly; world record holder Sarah Sjoestroem 7th

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Canada’s Margaret MacNeil has won the nation's first gold medal of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 after finishing first in the women’s 100m butterfly.

MacNeil, 21, finished with a time of 55.59 seconds, setting an Americas continental record at her first Olympic Games.

"I could hardly see anyone on the far side of the pool, which I think helped me a lot, because I was able to just focus on my own race," said MacNeil.

"I just put my head down and tried to get to the wall as fast as possible.

"I'm really glad it all came together."

Explaining her delayed reaction to the win, the Canadian said, "I like to check the scoreboard pretty quickly. But it's hard just because I don't have contacts (contact lenses).

"It does take me a minute to read the scoreboard, so I was just trying to squint and see where I came."

The 2019 world champion was in seventh position at the halfway stage but powered back to be crowned Olympic champion ahead of People’s Republic of China’s ZHANG Yufei, the top-ranked swimmer in the event.

Zhang took the silver medal with a time of 55.64, Australia's Emma McKeon finished in 55.72 for the bronze.

The USA's Torri Huske missed out on a place on the podium by 0.01 of a second.

The 18-year-old went out fast and was in front with 15 metres to go. But she fell off the pace with her final strokes and just missed out on a spot on the podium.

The gold was MacNeil’s first individual Olympic medal and her second of the Tokyo 2020 Games. She was part of the Canadian quartet that won the silver medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay.

"It's crazy," added Macneil. I'm trying to process what happened with the relay, because that was so incredible. And I still don't think I've realised the whole world champion thing, so this will take a while to get used to."

World record holder and defending champion Sarah Sjöström of Sweden was seventh.

"I knew the challenge for me would be win one race then get ready for the next one," said Sjöström, who had a metal plate and six screws inserted to hold her right arm together following a fall earlier this year.

“I did everything I physically could, all the mental preparations. I couldn’t do anything more."