Margaret Mac Neil won the women’s 100 metre butterfly event to capture Canada’s first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics.
Mac Neil, who was part of the silver medal winning women’s 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay team, was seventh at the halfway point but swam a strong second length to finish first in a Canadian record time of 55.59 seconds.
“It was more than I was hoping for at this point,” Mac Neil said. “I was really just trying to enjoy the experience and just have fun, which I think I did today.
“So I’m really proud of that and just trying to not be so nervous and just try to loosen up, which is when I really swim at my best.”
Zhang Yufei of China took silver and Emma McKeon of Australia won the bronze.
American Torri Huske finished fourth by one-hundredth of a second, denying the U.S. team a medal in the pool for the first time in the swimming competition.
Defending champion and world-record holder Sarah Sjöström of Sweden was seventh.
Mac Neil became Canada’s first multi-medallist in Tokyo following a silver medal in the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay in the first day of finals.
The 21-year-old from London, Ont., was a surprise winner of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2019 world championship in Gwangju, South Korea, where she bested Sjoestroem.
“Coming in with a target on your back is hard in so many ways,” Mac Neil said. “Going into worlds, I was relatively unknown, so I had that to my advantage.
“Going in with an expectation that I wanted to do well for myself and my family and friends and teammates that are home, I think that added pressure just makes it a little bit more challenging.”
Moment’s after Mac Neil’s win, the youngest member of Canada’s delegation at the Olympics just missed climbing the medal podium. Fourteen-year-old Summer McIntosh of Toronto finished fourth in the women’s 400-metre freestyle, setting a Canadian record with a time of 4:02.42.
McIntosh is the daughter of Jill Horstead, who swam for Canada in the 1984 Olympic Games. She edged Penny Oleksiak in the 200-metre freestyle final of the Olympic qualifier to earn a spot on the team.
Australia’s Ariarne Titmus defeated American Katie Ledecky for the gold medal in one of the most anticipated races of the games. The bronze went to China’s Li Bingjie.
The Canadian men’s team of Breny Hayden, Joshua Liendo Edwards, Yuri Kisil and Markus Thormeyer finished fourth in the 4×100 metre freestyle relay, missing a medal by just 6-10ths of a second.