Maggie MacNeil is Canada’s first gold medallist at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, her second medal of these games after Canada took silver in the women’s 4x100 freestyle relay on Sunday. So even though we’ve barely just cleared the first weekend of these Olympics, Canada already has a very strong candidate for the closing ceremony flagbearer.
When Maggie surprised so many people in the sport in 2019 at the world championships, winning gold in the 100m butterfly she said that, "I've definitely been working on my second 50. I tend not to go out as fast as the other girls, but I definitely can come back really well."
This is what happened in Maggie’s 100m fly final. She came charging in the back half of the race. I watched it live and like probably half the country I was shouting at the TV, “GO MAGGIE, COME ON MAGGIE!” And adorably I think we knew Maggie had won before she did because Maggie does not wear contact lenses in the pool:
The people who work and train with Maggie, though, knew what to expect from Maggie in the second 50 – she was seventh at the turn, and obviously made up all that ground to become Olympic champion. Here’s what her coach said of her in 2019 though:
“Maggie is a finals swimmer. She will get faster in finals.”
This is the kind of thing that turns me on – how elite athletes time their peak, finetune their programs and preparation so that they’re operating at full capacity, able to harness allllll their potential at exactly the right moment. It’s exhilarating to watch.
And also, for me personal, an extra emotional watch. Because Canada’s first gold medal at the 2020 Olympics was won by an Asian Canadian. And there were two Asian Canadian women on the Canadian team that won the silver medal in the 4 x 100 freestyle: Maggie and Kayla Sanchez. Here’s Maggie celebrating with Kayla and Rebecca Smith as Penny Oleksiak anchored them to second place:
And all of them together on the podium:
Maggie MacNeil though, Queen of the Pool!
Yours in gossip,