Olympics: Kristof Milak Cruises to Top Seed in 200 Butterfly

Jul 26, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Kristof Milak (HUN) in the men's 200m butterfly heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Olympics: Kristof Milak Cruises to Top Seed in 200 Butterfly

It was 21 years ago that a gawky 15-year-old kid from Baltimore first stepped onto the global stage in the men’s 200 butterfly.

In the five Games since that fateful day in Sydney, Michael Phelps never finished lower than fifth in his signature event. He won three gold medals, two silvers, through a record-breaking 28-medal haul, one retirement and a full adult life in the spotlight of world sports.

Monday, for the first time this millennium, we got to look at what an Olympic 200 fly without Phelps looked like. And for most of the field, it looked like the field of Kristof Milak.

The world record holder from Hungary dominated the pack, winning his heat by more than a second and taking the top seed my nearly that margin in an easy 1:53.58.

“I wanted 1:54, now I went 1:53.5. That’s nice,” Milak said. “I felt a little fatigue after the relay final in the morning, but recovered quickly so it’s all square.”

Milak was installed as the favorite at the 2019 World Championships, when he downed the world record. Next in his sights is the Olympic mark that Phelps set in 2008 (1:52.03).

Second was Chinese Taipei’s Eddie (Kuan-Hung) Wang in 1:54.44 with Leonardo de Deus of Brazil in third. Both Americans are through, with Zach Harting (1:54.92) in fourth and Gunnar Bentz (1:55.46) 12th. Both of Japan’s swimmers advanced, including ninth-place Daiya Seto, who appears to have recovered a bit from his sluggish 400 IM. Tomoru Honda is sixth.

Two of the principal animators from Rio are barely hanging on in Tokyo. Hungary’s Tamas Kenderesi, the bronze medalist in Rio, was eighth Monday night. Chad le Clos, the gold medalist in 2012 and fourth-place finisher in Rio, was 16th in 1:55.96, grabbing the final lane for the semis.

Milak is already talking like a veteran beyond his 21 years as he approaches Tuesday’s semifinals.

“I don’t want to hit the top gear tomorrow morning either, as I will have more swims,” he said. “So I need to preserve some energy and, honestly, I don’t see any reason that I should push that hard. … I want to have a great final, win the gold and clock a time which leaves a mark.”

Men’s 200 butterfly

  • World Record: Kristof Milak, Hungary, 1:50.73 (2019)
  • Olympic Record: Michael Phelps, United States, 1:52.03 (2008)
  1. Kristof Milak, Hungary, 1:53.58
  2. Kuan-Hung Wang, Chinese Taipei, 1:54.44
  3. Leonardo de Deus, Brazil, 1:54.83
  4. Zach Harting, United States, 1:54.92
  5. Noe Ponti, Switzerland, 1:55.05
  6. Tomoru Honda, Japan, 1:55.10
  7. Federico Burdisso, Italy, 1:55.13
  8. Tamas Kenderesi, Hungary, 1:55.18
  9. Daiya Seto, Japan, 1:55.26
  10. Giacomo Carini, Italy, 1:55.33
  11. Gunnar Bentz, United States, 1:55.46
  12. Aleksandr Kudashev, Russia, 1:55.54
  13. Krzystztof Chmielewski, Poland, 1:55.77
  14. Louis Croenen, Belgium, 1:55.78
  15. Leon Marchand, France, 1:55.85
  16. Chad le Clos, South Africa, 1:55.96

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Meg

    Amazing! You’re awesome! Congratulations!

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