U.S. Olympic swimmer Lilly King, who scored a silver medal in the women’s 200-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Games, pushed back against the media and perceived American sentiment against non-gold medal wins by calling it “bulls**t.”
According to Sports Illustrated, the 24-year-old athlete didn’t pull her punches, “Pardon my French, but the fact that we’re not able to celebrate silver and bronze is bulls**t.”
“Just because we compete for the United States, and maybe we have extremely high standards for this sort of thing, that doesn’t excuse the fact that we haven’t been celebrating silver and bronze as much as gold,” King remarked.
“I might be more happy with this medal than I’ve been with any of my previous medals, including the two golds in Rio,” King proudly commented. “We really should be celebrating those silver and bronzes, because those are some of the greatest moments of that athlete’s career, and why would we not celebrate that?”
Sorry. 200m. Goddamnit, @Twitter: edit button NOW.
— Luis Miguel Echegaray (@lmechegaray) July 30, 2021
Not only did King win the silver on day 7 of the Games, but her teammate Annie Lazor also took the bronze. They made history by marking the seventh time that two Team USA swimmers medaled in the same event.
King’s time was 2:19.92 and was one of the fastest ever recorded. She lost out to gold medal winner Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa who broke the world record with a stunning time of 2:18.95. It was less than two hundredths of a second faster than the previous record showing just how incredibly close the leaders were in the race. There were hugs all around among the winners from both countries.
King is a veteran of Team USA and was a two-time Olympic gold medalist in Rio in 2016. She won the bronze in the women’s 100-meter breaststroke earlier this week.
“It’s just an incredible swim,” declared Lazor, who finished in third place with a time of 2:20.84. “That world record has been standing for a little bit too long, I think. So to see someone finally crack 2:19, we’ve all been working towards that, I think, to see someone like her do it, she’s just a great person, just to be there and experience that with someone is something that you’ll really never forget.”
King’s sentiments echo those of U.S. gymnast Sunisa Lee who declared her support for her teammates after superstar Simone Biles’ shocking Olympics withdrawal. She heatedly defended their second-place finish in the team competition.
Lee tweeted she’s “never been prouder to be a part of such an amazing team with an amazing group of girls.” She also said, “We stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. we do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts.”
never been prouder to be apart of such an amazing team with an amazing group of girls. we stepped up when we needed to and did this for ourselves. we do not owe anyone a gold medal, we are WINNERS in our hearts. 🤍
— Sunisa lee (@sunisalee_) July 28, 2021
American headlines tend to run with phrases such as “settled for silver” and equate winning the bronze medal with losing. King, Lee, and other athletes take extreme exception to that unfair characterization especially considering how tight the timing of a given win is.
King hadn’t lost in a 100-meter breaststroke final in 5 1/2 years when she entered the Tokyo Games. A month prior to the Olympics, her father Mark told Yahoo! Sports, “She’s in a position in her career now where if she loses, the story isn’t gonna be ‘so and so won,’ it’s gonna be that Lilly lost.”
Many Americans on Twitter agreed with Kim and Lee and are very proud of their wins:
Imagine being 3rd best IN THE WORLD at anything and it being downplayed. Downplayed by people who won’t be remembered by their own families.
— 🏜Las Vegan Beef Cake🇺🇸 (@N0tSoBadHombre) July 30, 2021
Any medal won by an American is always celebrated here!!! Proud of all the Olympians who represent the red, white and blue!!! #USA
— Blake Bartak (@btbartak) July 30, 2021
Why is this not the universal mood? It is for me anyway! Proud of every single one of them! 🇺🇲
— 🏜Las Vegan Beef Cake🇺🇸 (@N0tSoBadHombre) July 30, 2021
Congrats for any medal and making it the Olympic Games. Most of these people act like they have elite athletes everywhere in their family tree. Just making it to this level is a major accomplishment that should be celebrated!!!
— Greg Henderson (@golffan004) July 30, 2021
Just being an Olympian is an unbelievable accomplishment. To earn any medal should be celebrated
— billorbilllyormacorbuddy (@bnoirot) July 30, 2021
How many of us would love to show and brag about a bronze medal to everyone we know? Getting an Olympic medal is one of the pinnacles of life. If I showed a bronze medal to a visitor to my home no one would ask me why I failed. All medals are an incredible accomplishment.
— Nathaniel Renteria (@rencito_4040) July 30, 2021
Just qualifying for the Olympics is a feat. Taking second in a quadrennial, world-wide event is an amazing accomplishment. Especially when you swim your best time and it takes a world record to beat you, your silver is certainly well-deserved and should absolutely be celebrated.
— Ed Butt (@EdB1947) July 30, 2021
This is dumb. Of course she and other swimmers “aim to be the best.” Only one ends up having that three or four-tenths of a second faster speed that usually is approximately the difference. We’re talking about 2nd or 3rd in the entire WORLD here. They’re the best of the best.
— Paul Roberts (@MisterRoberts) July 30, 2021
I agree especially in light of not being able to participate a year earlier. Let’s celebrate all our Athletes for the fact they got to compete. 🇺🇸
— Doug (@Dougdoubet) July 30, 2021
I got 4th in my event at the Games and was totally psyched (best American finish ever). Would have been over the moon if I had won a bronze or silver.
— Terry Kent (@gottakayak) July 30, 2021
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