U.S. Swimmer Lilly King Beats Russian Rival for Olympic Gold After Finger Wag Goes Viral
By Meredith B. Kile
American swimmer Lilly King went viral on Sunday after wagging her finger at Russian rival Yulia Efimova during the semifinals for the women’s 100m breaststroke. Then, during Monday night’s medal race, she backed it up.
King won gold in the event, breaking the Olympic record and touching out Efimova, who has been booed by the international crowd as she competes in the Rio Games after serving a 16-month suspension for doping from late 2013 to February 2015.
“It’s incredible, just winning a gold medal, and knowing I did it clean,” King told NBC after finishing her record-breaking race.
The 19-year-old University of Indiana swimmer has not been shy in her criticism of Efimova, who also failed a test for meldonium earlier this year. That result was overturned in time for the Russian swimmer to swim in Rio, a surprise to many of her competitors.
King and Efimova went back and forth with finger wags throughout the preliminary races in the 100m breaststroke, but it was King who ended up on top on Monday, winning the gold over her Russian rival, as fellow American Katie Meili took bronze.
“People probably think I am serving it up a little bit, but that is just how I am,” King explained after Sunday’s semifinals. “That’s just my personality. I’m not this sweet little girl, that’s not who I am. If I do need to stir it up to put a little fire under my butt or anybody else then that’s what I’m going to do."