Kylie Masse might need star Australian swimmer Kaylee McKeown to be at less than top form if she is to capture her first Olympic gold medal in the 200-metre backstroke.
First, the Canadian record holder will need to make it through Friday’s semifinals (Thursday at 10:35 p.m. ET in Canada) after placing in a second-place tie with American Rhyan White behind top qualifier McKeown in Tokyo.
McKeown sat second behind Taylor Ruck of Kelowna, B.C., and ahead of third-place Masse late in Thursday’s heat race before taking control over the final 50 metres to post a winning time of two minutes 8.18 seconds at Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
Masse was 5-100ths of a second behind in second followed by Ruck, who was third and qualified sixth of 16 swimmers in 2:08.87.
On Tuesday, the 25-year-old Masse narrowly missed gold in the women’s 100 backstroke, earning silver after leading midway in a race won in Olympic record time by the 20-year-old McKeown, her first gold at a Summer Games.
If Masse advances to Friday’s final at 9:37 p.m. ET, she’ll be looking to add to her international haul in the event, having captured bronze at the 2019 world championships and Commonwealth Games gold a year earlier.
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Ruck, who missed qualifying for the 100 backstroke final by 37-100ths of a second, is hoping for a chance to medal in the 200 after winning bronze in 100 and 200 relay competitions at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
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