US Olympic swimmer Rebecca Soni set a new world record and also captured a gold medal during Thursday’s women’s 200 breaststroke, the same event she won in 2008.
USA Today reports that Soni dominated in every heat in the 200 breaststroke, even setting the world record in the semifinal heat Wednesday night. On Thursday, she won gold and beat the record again, touching the wall with a time of 2:19:59.
Soni, who was excited to have her family in the crowd at the London Olympics, stated:
“I’m so happy. I didn’t focus on medals or records or whatever. I just wanted to swim my race the way I knew I could. It’s been my goal since I was a little kid to go under 2:20. That’s what my coach (during high school) told me: ‘You’re going to be the first woman to go under 2:20.’ “
Soni wasn’t sure if she could break the record on Thursday, which is why she went for it during the semis instead. She went on to say:
“To break it again tonight, it’s just unreal. This past year, I really said the 200 is my baby, that’s what I want to focus on. I guess it’s been four years in the works, training really hard every day. I couldn’t be happier.”
With her gold medal, Rebecca Soni became the first US swimmer to successfully defend an Olympic title in the breaststroke event, and celebrated by pumping her fist twice, which coach Dave Salo remarked was a huge display of emotion, reports The New York Times. Salo stated:
“Two fist pumps out of Rebecca Soni is huge. I’m probably more excited about that than the time. She’s a very serious athlete. It’s good to see her that happy.”
Soni, who is an unusual swimmer in the US stables, because she specializes in one stroke, whereas swimmers like Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin are multistroke stars, stated that:
“I used to do I.M. in college and before, and I do enjoy it…but I haven’t been able to do as well in it as I can in breaststroke. I will do the 200 I.M. every now and then to remind myself how much better breaststroke is for me, but, yeah, stick to what you’re good at. I do enjoy breaststroke. I feel like I’m still always working with it and improving. It’s never the same race twice.”
Were you excited to see Rebecca Soni break the world record twice, as well as take the gold, in the women’s 200 breaststroke?