TOKYO — Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old from Alaska, stunned reigning gold medalist Lilly King and won the 100-meter breaststroke at the Olympics here on Tuesday.
Jacoby came home in 1:04.95. South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker finished second (1:05.22). King, the Rio champ, finished third, 0.59 seconds off the pace.
King came in as the favorite. When not disqualified, she entered Tokyo unbeaten in the event in five-and-a-half years. At times since her gold in Rio, and especially since her world record at the world championships a year later, she felt unchallenged. At times, said her coach, Ray Looze, “when there’s nothing on the line, she’s bored.” She’d yearn for a challenge.
Here in Tokyo, she got it. Schoenmaker broke King’s Olympic record in preliminary heats, and bettered King in the semifinals by 0.33 seconds to earn the top seed in Tuesday’s final.
Those two seemingly would duel it out for gold, and did over the first 50 meters. But Jacoby never lost contact, and over the last 25 meters surged ahead to pull off the stunning upset.
Walking away afterward, 30 yards behind Jacoby, King looked stunned.
“I was racing for a medal,” Jacoby said after. “I definitely wasn’t expecting a gold medal”