TOKYO: China’s Zhang Yufei proved untouchable in the women’s Olympic 200m butterfly final on Thursday (Jul 29), blasting to the gold medal in the third-fastest time ever.
The 23-year-old has been in red-hot form this year, and hit the wall in a new Olympic record time of 2:03.86, ahead of Americans Regan Smith (2:05.30) and Hali Flickinger (2:06.65).
Victory comes as a timely boost for China, who now have their first swimming gold medal in Tokyo to add to one silver, which Zhang won in the 100m fly, and a bronze.
Zhang, a sprint free and fly specialist, had been one of only two women to crack 2:06.00 this year, with Flickinger the other. Her Olympic record at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre was also the quickest time posted in 12 years.
The 23-year-old exploded from the blocks to pull more than a second clear at the first turn and she was motoring at world record pace when the race reached halfway.
Flickinger, who took silver at the 2019 World Championships, was Zhang’s closest challenger going into the last length, but she was unable to close the gap and was pipped to silver by Smith at the end.
Zhang will hope to claim her third individual medal in the 50m freestyle, which starts on Friday.
Catch the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020 LIVE with 14 dedicated channels on meWATCH. Sign in now at mewatch.sg/tokyo2020 and get into the action with Mediacorp, Singapore’s Olympics Network.