Last night was a great one for American swimmers. Michael Phelps put the team on his back and brought the 4 x 100 relay gold back to America, Katie Ledecky continued her run of record-setting performances, and Lilly King showed us that she is a real one.
While King was waiting to participate in her preliminary heat for the 100-meter breaststroke, NBC’s cameras caught her in an honest moment. King, after watching the other preliminary heat unfold, gave Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova, who had just posted the top time in her heat, the Mutombo finger wag.
Efimova is not a popular figure at these Olympics. She was among the bevy of athletes who were implicated in Russia’s massive doping scandal, and has two positive tests for banned substances on her record. Efimova was one of the Russian swimmers who was banned from the Rio Olympics by the International Swimming Federation last month, but that decision was quietly overturned for reasons nobody can quite explain. Now, Efimova is going to be swimming for a medal.
Hence King’s disdain. Shortly after breaking out that finger wag, King went on to post the top time in her heat, setting her up for a showdown with Efimova in the final. After the swim, NBC reporter Michele Tafoya asked King to explain what the finger waving was all about:
King and Efimova will face off in the final tonight. You should probably watch that race.