China’s Zhang Yufei just submitted a strong bid for the most successful single hour of all time.
Most Olympic athletes can merely dream of achieving one golden moment at the Games in their lifetime but Zhang did it twice in 63 minutes on Thursday morning.
The 23-year-old blew her competition out of the water with an Olympic-record swim in the women’s 200-metre butterfly to defeat Americans Regan Smith and Hali Flickinger. An emotional celebration followed with Zhang wrapping herself in the Chinese flag and saluting the limited crowd.
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But she didn’t even have time to dry off or wipe her tears of joy before helping China’s 4×200-meter freestyle relay team to a world-record time, upsetting the United States and heavily favoured Australia.
“Before the 200m butterfly, I really wanted this medal, but I felt more nervous about it, of course,” said Zhang in a news conference after the relay event.
“Before the race, my coach told me you don’t need to think too much … be yourself and you will be champion, and the result may even exceed expectations and even the record.”