Indiana sophomore Lilly King hasn’t competed in an Olympic swimming final yet, but she’s already stealing headlines.
With one wave of a finger — Dikembe Mutombo-style — King has set up a dramatic 100-meter breaststroke final you won’t want to miss Monday night in Rio.
Lilly King doesn't hold back.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2016
The finger-wave was directed at Yulia Efimova, a noted Russian drug cheat who was controversially allowed to compete at the Games after being previously banned by the International Olympic Committee.
According to USA Today, that reinstatement happened on Saturday with little explanation, and King was none too pleased.
As for the finger wave, cameras picked up King responding to Efimova, who appeared to mock King with the motion after posting a time of 1:05.72 in the first of two semifinals.
King then backed that up by swimming the race in 1:05.70 to claim the top seed time, and didn’t hold back in post-race interviews.
“Basically, what happened this morning was that I finished and then I waved my finger a little bit, because that’s kind of how I am,” the 19-year-old King told USA Today’s Martin Rogers. “Then tonight just now Yulia got done with her swim and I am watching in the ready room — and there she is there shaking her finger. So then I got done and I beat her time so I waved my finger again. People probably think I am serving it up a little bit but that is just how I am.
“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.”
King is the American record-holder in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and came to Rio as the favorite to take home gold in both. She is one of 17 active Big Ten athletes representing the conference in Rio.