American swimmer Lilly King, who made headlines Sunday with her strong words and finger-wagging assault on rival and chief competitor Yulia Efimova, backed up her tough talk in the women's 100m breaststroke final. King set an Olympic record as she edged Efimova for the gold medal, while American Katie Meili took the bronze.
King, a 19-year-old Indiana native and first-time Olympian, led almost wire to wire as she earned her first Olympic gold medal.
After the swim, the outspoken King was at a bit of a loss for words.
"It's incredible," she told Michele Tafoya of NBC Sports following the race. "I really am speechless right now. I don't even know [what to say]. We did it. I'm so excited, proud to represent USA and get the gold for our country."
Just 24 hours earlier, it was King slamming Efimova for her checkered past when it comes to doping violations. The Russian swimmer was allowed to compete despite widespread initially being banned as part of the Russian doping scandal. She had previously been suspended from swimming for 16 months and tested positive thereafter in a sample that was eventually disqualified.
King grabbed attention as she edged Efimova by two one hundredths of a second in the semifinals Sunday to enter the final in first place. It wasn't her swimming that captivated the country, per se, but her words and now-viral wagging finger:
"You're shaking your finger 'No. 1,' and you've been caught for cheating. I'm just not a fan," King told NBC Sports after her semifinal swim.
That set the stage for an intense final, fueled by the trash talk and the enduring ethical question of whether or not Efimova should have even been allowed to compete in the first place given the widespread doping scandal in which Russia remains embroiled.
Amid all of that, however, King let her swimming do the rest of the talking. She touched the wall in an Olympic-record time of 1:04.93, handily defeating Efimova and making an emphatic statement in the process.
"I hope I did [make a statement]," King told NBC Sports after the race, eventually finding more words as the shock of her win wore off. "Obviously winning an Olympic gold medal is probably making a statement; that's what I was hoping for. I hope I did [make a statement] that we can still compete clean and do well at the Olympic Games, and that's how it should be."
The rest of the talking was taken care of by Twitter as the American chest-puffing kicked into high gear:
This popped up on my Facebook feed. Lilly King is most unifying force in Evansville history. pic.twitter.com/Pv3Cylz6Qz— Ryan G. Reynolds (@RyanReynolds) August 8, 2016
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." - Lilly King— Tom Fornelli (@TomFornelli) August 9, 2016
Lilly King on the medal stand in a bit pic.twitter.com/mnzc2svOmO— Robby Kalland (@RKalland) August 9, 2016
Lilly King is gold medalist in breaststroke and world record holder in badass— Jerry Palm (@jppalmCBS) August 9, 2016
Come at the King, you best. not. miss.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) August 9, 2016
Lilly King to Yulia Efimova right now https://t.co/evgemyXu9J— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 9, 2016
A room full of Russians jacked on Mountain Dew are guessing Lilly King's email password right now— Bobby Big Wheel (@BobbyBigWheel) August 9, 2016
So pumped Lilly King just crushed She Who Shall Not Be Named 🇺🇸 #TeamUSA— Kelley O'Hara (@kohara19) August 9, 2016
And just like that, Lilly King solidified her status as a household name (and the queen of smack talk).