Mac Neil wins Canada's first gold in Tokyo Olympics, first in women's 100 butterfly

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TOKYO — Swimmer Margaret Mac Neil has won Canada's first gold medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Mac Neil was seventh at the halfway point of the women's 100-metre butterfly, but swam a strong second length to win in a time of 55.59 seconds.

"It was more than I was hoping for at this point," Mac Neil said. "I was really just trying to enjoy the experience and just have fun, which I think I did today.

"So I'm really proud of that and just trying to not be so nervous and just try to loosen up, which is when I really swim at my best."

Zhang Yufei of China was second and Emma McKeon of Australia finished third.

Mac Neil became Canada's first multi-medallist in Tokyo following a silver medal in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay in the first day of finals.

The 21-year-old from London, Ont., was a surprise winner of the 100-metre butterfly at the 2019 world championship in Gwangju, South Korea, where she bested reigning Olympic champion Sarah Sjoestroem of Sweden.

"Coming in with a target on your back is hard in so many ways," Mac Neil said. "Going into worlds, I was relatively unknown, so I had that to my advantage.

"Going in with an expectation that I wanted to do well for myself and my family and friends and teammates that are home, I think that added pressure just makes it a little bit more challenging."

Mac Neil, a senior at the University of Michigan, is also a two-time NCAA champion in freestyle and butterfly..

She'd posted the sixth-fastest semifinal time in the 100-metre butterfly an hour before swimming the second leg of the relay in Tokyo.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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