The tension was palpable Monday night in Rio, and Lilly King, a sophomore at Indiana University, did not disappoint in the pool.
King edged her brand-new arch-nemesis Yulia Efimova in the 100-meter breastroke in what is sure to be a race relived for years to come. Her time—1 minute, 4.93 seconds—is an Olympic record.
The rivalry was born when King, just prior to qualifying first, was caught giving Efimova an unmistakable Dikembe Mutombo-style finger wag.
“You know, you’re shaking your finger No. 1 and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” King said following Sunday’s semifinal. “I’m just not, you know, not a fan.”
Lilly King doesn't hold back.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2016
Efimova, a Russian who has been banned from competition twice before for doping violations, was initially suspended for these games by the International Olympic Committee before being inexplicably reinstated Saturday.
King said she believes she made a statement, both in and out of the pool.
“Yeah, I hope I did,” King told NBC following the race. “We can still compete clean and do well at the Olympic games, and that’s how it should be.”
Lilly King: "It was so incredible, winning a gold medal and knowing I did it clean." #Rio2016
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) August 9, 2016
King further explained her derisive finger-wag later Sunday.
“That’s just kind of my personality,” King told the Indianapolis Star. “I’m not the sweet little girl. That’s not who I am. If I need to stir it up to a light a fire under my butt or anybody else’s, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Throughout the day Monday, the IU community had been tweeting its collective support, including assistant football coach Greg Frey:
— Greg Frey (@GregFreyIU) August 8, 2016