Major rivalries were left in the pool over the past two days at the Rio 2016 Olympics, with American swimmers Michael Phelps, Lilly King and Katie Ledecky emerging victorious.
King and Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, nearly banned from Rio for a positive Meldonium test, faced each other during the women’s 100 meter breaststroke on Monday night. Efimova had taunted King after winning the semi-final the night before, a move that only fueled King to a stunning victory and gold medal over her Russian rival. “It was so incredible, winning a gold medal and knowing I did it clean,” she later pronounced after her victory.
Young champion Ledecky continues to impress as well after going up against Sweden’s Sarah Sjorstrom. The two swam against each other during the women’s 200 meter freestyle on Tuesday night, with Ledecky just barely edging out the mighty Sjorstrom 1:53.73 to 1:54.08. Despite the loss, the silver-earning Sjorstrom swam over to Ledecky for a congratulatory hug.
Finally, Phelps versus South Africa’s Chad le Clos, the man who took the 2012 Gold for men’s 200 meter butterfly away from the American champion.
While le Clos’s confidence may have twisted Phelp’s face into the expression that launched a thousand memes, the American champion shot like a bullet through the water. By the contest’s end, Phelps won his 20th gold medal while le Clos couldn’t even reach the podium in fourth.
The most decorated Olympiad later notched another top medal after a win with Team USA in the Men’s 4×200 meter Freestyle Relay.
Check out the accompanying gallery to see visual highlights between these fantastic match-ups. Catch the finals for the men’s 200 meter breaststroke and 100 meter freestyle along with the women’s 200 meter butterfly and women’s 4×200 meter freestyle relay tonight.
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Yulia Efimova of Russia celebrates winning the first Semifinal of the Women's 100m Breaststroke by stealing Lily King's finger wave, a taunt that only fueled King to victory when the two raced during the final.
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Lilly King (L) of the United States and Yulia Efimova (R) of Russia compete in the Women's 100m Breaststroke Final, a bout turned fierce after a mocking finger wave.
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Gold medalist Lilly King of the United States celebrates as silver medalist Yulia Efimova of Russia looks on during the medal ceremony for the Women's 100m Breaststroke Final.
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Sarah Sjostrom of Sweden congratulates gold medal winner Katie Ledecky (R) of the United States in the Women's 200m Freestyle Final.
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Michael Phelps (L) of the United States leads Chad le Clos of South Africa in the Men's 200m Butterfly Final.
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Michael Phelps (C) of the United States leads Chad le Clos of South Africa (R) and Tamas Kenderesi (L) of Hungary in the Men's 200m Butterfly Final.
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Michael Phelps celebrates with his mother Deborah Phelps, fiancee Nicole Johnson and son Boomer during the medal ceremony for the Men's 200m Butterfly Final.
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Michael Phelps kisses his 21st gold medal during the medal ceremony for the Men's 4 x 200m Freestyle Relay Final.