VIDEO | Eric Crawford on Lilly King's Olympic achievement
Eric Crawford's sports page video segment on Indiana swimmer Lilly King's gold medal accomplishment, and the statement she sent.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The road that 19-year-old Indiana University sophomore Lilly King took to an Olympic Gold Medal in the 100-meter breaststroke is not the road you’re supposed to take to Olympic glory. It’s not the one they lay out for you in the swim establishment.
You’re supposed to be identified at a very early age, get pipelined into a powerhouse swim club and work your way up the youth ranks. By the time you’re 10, everybody knows your name.
You’re not supposed to go to the little club near home, the Newburgh Sea Creatures, just a couple of hours down the road from us, in Newburgh, Indiana. You don’t volunteer to be the club’s mascot when they need one, making a costume and cheering for all the others at races.
You’re not supposed to train at a plain old city pool, like Lloyd Pool in Evansville, because state high school rules require you train with your team three months a year. When you need extra work, you’re not supposed to work out alongside a masters swim club, with people decades older.
And, once you’ve gone through all that to reach the improbable Olympic stage, you’re not supposed to taunt your chief Russian competitor, Yuliya Yefimova, wagging your finger at the TV screen when you see her holding up her index finger after a heat win. You’re not supposed to do it again after winning your own heat, then telling the press, “You know, you're shaking your finger No. 1 and you've been caught for drug cheating, I'm just not, you know, not a fan.”
Oh yeah, you’re not supposed to call anyone out for doping. That just isn’t done. But Lilly King came to the Olympics squeaky clean, then proceeded to clean up. It took someone like her, with apparently no fear, to call out the Russians, and even other Americans, for using performance enhancing drugs.
Lilly King didn’t need to do those things to be an Olympic hero. She’d have been a lead story just from winning the 100-meter breaststroke. But because she said those things, she’ll be remembered long after other moments from these Rio Olympics have faded.
Tired of PED abuse clouding the waters of her sport, King decided to make waves. And when she pounded a fist into Efimova’s lane after winning by more than half a second in Olympic record time, she struck a blow for the frustration of clean athletes everywhere in the face of rampant drug abuse to get ahead.
Good for Lilly King, and good for her hometown of Evansville, which was my home for eight years. Often forgotten in the far southwest corner of the state, it is beaming this week, over the example of a young woman who did not do it by the book, but who threw the book at cheating in the highest levels of her sport.
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