Commonwealth Games: Canadian Joshua Liendo Breaks Through With Gold in 100 Butterfly

Joshua Liendo-Olympic Swimming Trials-f-21june2021Photo Scott Grant

Commonwealth Games: Canadian Joshua Liendo Breaks Through With Gold in 100 Butterfly

The original hype surrounding Canadian Joshua Liendo was centered on his skill in the freestyle events. But Liendo, too, has proven himself as an elite performer in the 100-meter butterfly, and that event just might be the discipline in which the 19-year-old makes the most noise.

Coming off a bronze medal in the event at the World Championships in Budapest in June, Liendo blasted his way to the gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday. Going wire-to-wire at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Liendo topped a field which featured some big names. Ultimately, he touched the wall in 51.24 to narrowly edge the duo of Australian Matt Temple and England’s James Guy, who tied for the silver medal in 51.40.

South African Chad le Clos was fourth in 51.61 and former pop star Cody Simpson, who has returned to his youth roots in the pool, was fifth in 52.06. Le Clos was chasing his third consecutive crown in the event, but couldn’t rally from his fourth-place position at the turn.

Liendo opened the race with a front-half split of 23.81, early speed that handed the Canadian some breathing room over Temple (23.96) and Guy (24.11). Liendo yielded some of his lead on the last 50 meters, but his homecoming split of 27.43 was fast enough to keep his challengers at bay.

Liendo has gradually enhanced his presence in the 100 butterfly over the past year-plus. He advanced to the semifinals of the Olympic Games last summer and then made a significant jump at the World Championships in Budapest. At Worlds, where Hungarian Kristof Milak won gold, Liendo had a key breakthrough by making the podium in the bronze position. He was timed in 50.97 at the World Champs and while his time was a bit slower at Commonwealths, Liendo showed how to get the job done under pressure.

In Temple and Guy, Liendo faced a couple of guys with considerable experience. Temple has been a longtime member of the Australian National Team while Guy is a key figure in British swimming and was the silver medalist in the 100 fly at the last edition of the World Champs.

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