Margaret Mac Neil wins Canada's first gold medal of Tokyo Olympics

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TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Margaret Macneil of Team Canada poses with the gold medal for the Women's 100m Butterfly Final on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on July 26, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
TOKYO, JAPAN - JULY 26: Margaret Mac Neil of Team Canada poses with the gold medal for the Women's 100m Butterfly. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Margaret Mac Neil delivered Canada's first gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics by winning the women's 100m butterfly.

The 21-year-old from London, Ont., topped the podium with a thrilling victory at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre. She finished the race with a time of 55.59 seconds, narrowly edging out China's Yufei Zhang, who won silver with a time of 55.64 seconds. Australia's Emma McKeon wasn't too far behind, earning bronze with a time of 55.72 seconds.

Mac Neil explained that the result exceeded the expectations she set for herself.

"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."

Mac Neil's swim set a new Canadian and Americas record. 

In addition to the tight finish, what made Mac Neil's win so exciting was her last 50 metres. At the midway point of the race, Mac Neil timed in at 26.50 seconds, placing her seventh amongst the eight swimmers in the competition. Her time of 29.09 seconds over the final 50 metres of the race was more than four-tenths of a second faster than any of her competitors.

Mac Neil's reaction to winning gold was a bit delayed, but when she finally realized what had happened, the Canadian swimmer was overcome with joy. She managed to play it cool in her post-race interview, though.

"I heard my name called so I thought I did something well,” she told CBC.

This is already Mac Neil's second medal of the Games. She was part of the women's 4x100m relay team that took silver on Day 2. Not bad for her first taste of the Olympics.

Canada has now earned one gold and two silver medals at the Tokyo Games, with all three coming in the pool.

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