BOZICH | Memo to Russian trolls: Indiana's Lilly King firm on go - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Memo to Russian trolls: Indiana's Lilly King firm on gold medal anti-doping stance

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Lilly King carried her two Olympic gold medals in a Target shopping bag Friday at Indiana University. Lilly King carried her two Olympic gold medals in a Target shopping bag Friday at Indiana University.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – For all the hackers, trolls and Internet bullies from Moscow to Kazan, the message is clear and unyielding:

Lilly King would not change one syllable of the anti-doping lecture she delivered at the Rio Olympics before she brought two gold medals home to Indiana University.

Not one word. Not one stare. Not one finger wag.


“I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that I’m the poster child for a clean sport now,” King said Friday at IU. “If I’m going to be a poster child for anything, I think that’s a good thing.

“I guess I’m the poster child for playing it fair and not cheating, which is sad there even had to be a poster child for that. But yeah, if people feel the need to come to me to have the final word with something, I guess doping-related, I’m fine with speaking about that.”

Speak up, Ms. King. Keep speaking with pride and clarity.

America celebrated your message. Your hometown of Evansville, Ind., about two hours west of Louisville along I-64, remains gaga about your victories in the 100-meter breaststroke and 4 x 100 medley relay.

You made a media tour to southwestern Indiana on Wednesday, but they’d love for you to squeeze as many visits as possible into your schedule now that you’re already a week into your sophomore year of classes at IU.

People in Bloomington are carrying on the same way. King shopped at Target the other night and people started snapping pictures and asking for hugs.

“That was a little weird,” King said. “I feel the same. I know life’s not the same. But I feel like the same me. Nothing’s really changed too much.”

King has tried maintain her everything is normal approach by showing up at her gymnastics class (she’s a physical education major) and walking across campus without wearing Team USA Olympics gear.

She arrived for her press conference at Memorial Stadium Friday carrying her two gold medals in a opaque, plastic Target shopping bag.

Fancy, huh? What’s the big deal?

But Lilly King is a big deal for a 19-year-old who insists that she does not have elite swimming ability. Her teammates, like Cody Miller, himself a gold medal winner, know that.

“She just said what everybody else was thinking,” Miller said. “There are people who missed out on the Olympic finals because of people who aren’t doing it the right way.”

 So does Ray Looze, King’s coach.

“Nothing for anybody who went to that meet will ever be the same because you’re forever an Olympian and that’s a really select group of people,” Looze said.

“Learning how to handle that success is going to be pretty important and using it for their families, themselves, their schools. That will be what we hope that they can do.”

For King it was more than just the two gold medals and playing of the national anthem. Much more. Other than Michael Phelps (the greatest Olympian ever), Katie Ledecky (star of the women’s team) and Ryan Lochte (Mr. Knucklehead), King delivered the Olympics performance everybody will remember.

It was the nationally televised finger wag at Julia Efimova, the Russian swimmer who competed at Rio even though she was twice penalized for using performance-enhancing substances.

It was doubling down on the finger wag by looking directly into the cameras and telling Michelle Tafoya:

“You're shaking your finger No. 1, and you've been caught for drug cheating -- I'm just not a fan.”

That was just the semifinals.

King saved her best for the finals – staring down Efimova on the starting blocks and then chasing her down in the pool, setting an Olympic record. Efimova needed 1:05.50 to finish 100 meters. King required 1:04.93.

“I had no intentions of planning to speak out,” King said. “They kind of caught me quite candid in the ready room, wagging my finger.

“That was just purely me being myself … it came out. I didn’t realize I was saying anything horrible or speaking out. Just kind of speaking my mind. Yeah, it kind of went from there.”

It’s still going. And going. The scouting report: People will be discussing this for years. Most feedback has been encouraging, although King has also taken several shots from columnists like Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post.

The reviews from Russia?

She’s been referred to as a “savage.”

King said that her admirers overseas have not clicked the LIKE button on the social media photos she has posted pictures of herself with IU classmates.

“The Russian backlash has been quite interesting,” King said. “I try not to let it get to me too much. Half the time I can’t read it because it’s in Russian and I obviously do not speak Russian so it’s actually been kind of amusing to me.

“It’s been a little frustrating at times when I post a picture of me and one of my best friends on Instagram and they’re saying, ‘You don’t deserve your gold medal. That’s a little frustrating.

“But I know that I’m right on every single thing that I said. So it doesn’t really bug me too much.”

And when it does bug her? All Lilly King needs to do is look the sparkling objects inside her Target shopping bag.

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