Mireia Belmonte is officially Spain’s swimming sensation…
The 25-year-old Spanish swimmer raced her way to first place in the Women’s 200 Meter Butterfly at the 2016 Rio Games on Wednesday to become the first Spanish woman to win an Olympic swimming gold medal.
Belmonte, a two-time silver medalist at the 2012 London Games, went a step better than she did at the 2012 Summer Olympics with a winning time of two minutes, 4.85 seconds, the fastest time so far this year.
Australia’s Madeline Groves, who went into the race with the fastest time of 2016, took the silver medal and Japan’s world champion Natsumi Hoshi won bronze.
Belmonte’s gold completed the medal set for Belmonte, who won a bronze in the Women’s 400 Individual Medley on Saturday, and was also the first for Spain in any sport at the Rio Games.
A silver medalist also in the 800m freestyle four years ago, her four-medal career haul makes her Spain’s most successful swimmer, though victory was still a haze for her after the race.
“I’m still nervous. Nothing comes to mind,” she said when asked what she was thinking about. “The truth is it’s everything I dreamed of and it’s all happened so quickly.”
Her victory was the first for Spain in the Olympic pool since Martin Lopez Zubero won the men’s 200 backstroke at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
She still had to work hard for victory, with Groves leading at the first turn after Hoshi had made the fastest start from the blocks.
Groves was also ahead at the halfway stage but Belmonte came back strongly and dashed her rival’s hopes of becoming the first Australian to win the event since Susan O’Neill at the 1996 Atlanta Games.