Tokyo: Standing atop the Olympic podium, Maggie Mac Neil flashed a double “thumbs up” to the small but vocal crowd of staff and teammates that watched her pick up Canada’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics.
The swimmer’s casually cool gesture at an event that carries a sense of occasion illustrated the unflappable nature Mac Neil had demonstrated moments ago in the Tokyo Aquatic Centre, when she mowed through the competition in the second length of the women’s 100-metre butterfly to touch the wall first.
Entering the turn seventh out of eight swimmers, Mac Neil responded with a second 50 metres 0.84 seconds faster than her closest competitor to win in 55.59 seconds, an Americas record and the third-fastest time in the history of the event.
“I’m not usually out as fast,” Mac Neil said Monday after her win. “I need a little bit more time to get going. The second 50 is always my sweet spot and where I feel the most comfortable.”
She needed all that “sweet spot” had to offer in this race. Mac Neil finished just 0.05 seconds ahead of China’s Zhang Yufei. Australia’s Emma McKeon was third in 55.72 seconds.
Mac Neil now adds Olympic champion to her swimming resume, a complement to the world title she won two years ago in Gwangju, South Korea.
Later Monday, Jessica Klimkait won Canada’s first ever women’s judo medal, taking bronze in the under-57-kilogram division. That gave Canada multiple medals for the second straight day in Tokyo.
Mac Neil knew the world title meant she wasn’t going to surprise anyone in Tokyo.
The Canadian Press