A few months ago, Lilly King was training out of her dorm room at Indiana University. On Monday night, she became an American hero, winning gold in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Rio Olympics. And the victory came with major drama.
On Sunday, Yulia Efimova, the 2015 world champion in the 100 breaststroke, raised a finger, calling herself No. 1 after winning her semifinal. Backstage, King wagged her own finger at the Russian. King then won the second semifinal heat, raised her own finger and called out Efimova on NBC: "You've been caught for drug-cheating. I'm just not a fan."
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 8, 2016
Efimova was suspended from Oct. 2013-Feb. 2015 for steroid use, and she was temporarily banned for this Olympics after failing a test for meldonium.
In the pool Monday, King and Efimova raced side by side in the middle lanes. At the end, King pulled away for the gold. At 1:04.93, she set an Olympic record. Efimova's time was 1:05.50.
"It's incredible, just winning a gold medal, and knowing I did it clean," King said.
King, 19, talked the talk and walked the walk. Then America celebrated on social media.
Lilly King to Russia pic.twitter.com/L5zgJ3aE4Y
— Andrew Joseph (@AndyJ0seph) August 9, 2016
— Luke Kerr-Dineen (@LukeKerrDineen) August 9, 2016
Lilly King to Russia pic.twitter.com/vnbJu1ihoX
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 9, 2016
Lilly King wins the 100m breast stroke! pic.twitter.com/oG4QIz86aI
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) August 9, 2016
— Chris Kroeger (@Kroeger) August 9, 2016
Bet this Indiana car wash is LIT tonight. pic.twitter.com/HGome2DBHF
— Brett Edgerton (@EditorEdge) August 9, 2016
“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” - Lilly King
— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) August 9, 2016
Lilly King be like ... pic.twitter.com/POygyNXlRl
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) August 9, 2016
There were a lot of Rocky IV references:
Lilly King pic.twitter.com/fBI6p2Ykwx
— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) August 9, 2016
No reason pic.twitter.com/JwNEnpCw0F
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) August 9, 2016
— Sean Donovan (@TheSeanDon) August 9, 2016
Lilly King vs. Yulia Efimova right now... pic.twitter.com/apI6eerfLU
— Jeffrey Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) August 9, 2016
King gets a much needed day off Tuesday. She returns to the pool Wednesday for her heat in the 200 breaststroke.
Katie Meili, a 25-year-old Texan, won the bronze medal in the 100 breaststroke and embraced King, as Efimova looked on.
Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.