Tokyo — For Maggie McNeill of Canada, who wears glasses outside the pool but does not use contact lenses or prescription goggles when swimming, the race often ends in blur.
This means that after she touches the wall trying to focus on the result board, it takes a second or two for the image to become clear.
Did I win?
The killer suspense was Monday’s Tokyo Olympics. McNeil made a turn in almost the final 7th place in the 100-meter butterfly final, followed by a huge second lap.
“I was squinting and trying to see where I was,” she said. “I heard my name called, so I thought I must have done something good.”
When she realized she had won her first Olympic gold medal, McNeil uttered “Oh My God” and got a big hug from defending champion Sarah Sjoström.
It was an enthusiastic 24 hours for MacNeil. A 21-year-old from London, Ontario was also part of a Canadian team that won a silver medal at a 4×100 freestyle relay on Sunday.
Her stash is growing rapidly, with two medals from Tokyo coming together with three from the 2019 World Championships. This is also a 100 fly gold medal and two relay bronze.
“It’s crazy,” she said at the Tokyo Aquatics Center. “I’m still trying to handle it yesterday, but what happened at the relay just because it was so great? And I don’t think I’ve realized the World Champion yet.
“So this will certainly take some time to get used to.”
McNeil also needs to figure out where to store the medals. Her world champion Kim is currently sitting on her bookshelf.
“I really don’t have a place to do that,” she said.
The big picture is that Canadian swimming is back after 30 years of wasting the Olympics, which finally ended in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, when Penny Olexiac won four medals, including a 100 freestyle gold medal. ..
Oleksiak is also 21 years old, joining the Canadian 4×100 team with McNeil in Tokyo on Sunday.
And the latest Canadian sensation is the 14-year-old Summer Macintosh, who swam in the 400 Freestyle Finals on Monday with superstars Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Tittoms.
McNeil sang Macintosh praise in an interview at the pool. The two are roommates in Tokyo. She noticed that a teen race was happening at that time. McNeil asked if the interview could be put on hold and viewed, and provided her own nervous running commentary.
At one point, Macintosh was third behind Ledecky and Titmuss, and was in a bronze battle with China’s Li Bingjie.
“Is she the third?” McNeil squeezed while she was watching. “Yeah! Come to the total. She has to grab … oh yeah, I can’t see this. Tell me when you’re done.”
Macintosh had just missed a medal, but finished fourth in her first Olympic final.
“It’s not bad for 14 years old,” McNeil said. “I’m serious.”
McNeil then turned to the reporter and apologized for the diversion. “Anyway, what were we doing? I’m sorry,” she said.
And she regained focus for the second time of the day.