World Championships, Day Two Finals: Zhang Yufei Ends Bronze Age With Title In 100 Butterfly

chinese-ZHANG Yufei CHN Women's 200m butterfly heats Swimming Men's 4x100m freestyle final Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates 17/12/21 Etihad Arena FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) Photo Giorgio Perottino / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Editorial content for the 2023 World Aquatics Championships is sponsored by FINIS, a longtime partner of Swimming World and leading innovator of suits, goggles and equipment.


World Championships, Day Two Finals: Zhang Yufei Ends Bronze Age With Title In 100 Butterfly

A look at the credentials of Zhang Yufei shows an athlete with a vast collection of medals from international competition. Most notably, the Chinese star owns a gold medal from the 200-meter butterfly at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, the World Championships haven’t been as kind to Zhang – until Monday night at the Marine Messe Hall.

Heading into the final of the 100-meter butterfly, all seven of Zhang’s medals from the World Champs were bronze. Now, she has a gold medal for company, thanks to a winning performance of 56.12. Down the stretch, Zhang was able to fend off Olympic champion Maggie Mac Neil of Canada, who touched the wall in 56.45. At the Tokyo Games, the finishing order was reversed, as Mac Neil took the gold medal ahead of Zhang in the silver position.

Seeded first, Zhang opened with a front-half split of 26.03, just ahead of the 26.04 of American Torri Huske. Meanwhile, Mac Neil was in third place after a split of 26.15. Over the second half of the race, Zhang slightly expanded her lead over Mac Neil, who caught Huske for the silver medal. The American captured bronze in 56.61, with Australian Emma McKeon just off the podium in a fourth-place time of 56.88.

There is an affability to Zhang, whose bubbly personality contrasts the typically buttoned-up demeanor of most Chinese athletes. Meanwhile, her talent spans all three butterfly events, a testament to her speed and stamina, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she leaves Fukuoka with hardware from the 50 through the 200 distances – exactly what she managed last summer in Budapest with three bronze medals.

The 200 fly is shaping up to be a dazzling showdown between Zhang, reigning world champ Summer McIntosh of Canada and American Regan Smith, who was the silver medalist in the event behind Zhang at the Tokyo Olympics.

Mac Neil’s silver medal ended a stretch of three major championship competitions in which she was the gold medalist. After winning the world title in 2019, Mac Neil was the Olympic champion in Tokyo and followed that outing with Commonwealth Games gold last summer. It’s been a rough start to the meet for Canada, and Mac Neil’s podium finish might be what her country needs to shift momentum.

“I’m more happy with the placing than I am with the time,” Mac Neil said. “Obviously I would’ve hoped to have been faster, but there’s stuff I still need to work toward for next year. But it’s always good just getting back on the international stage of racing.”

The defending champion, Huske ensured she would earn another medal in her prime event by pressing the pace early. Although Mac Neil caught Huske, the American had enough in the tank to place ahead of McKeon, who anchored Australia to a world record in the 400 freestyle relay on the opening night of the meet.

“I was super excited to race them,” Huske said. “This is an amazing field, and I’m very grateful that I got on the podium. Third is still a really big deal, especially after I got touched out in Tokyo by .01. So I’m very thankful for that.”


Photo Courtesy:

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x