Canada's Kylie Masse becomes two-time Tokyo 2020 silver medalist
© Provided by National Post Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Swimming - Women's 200m Backstroke - Final - Tokyo Aquatics Centre - Tokyo, Japan - July 31, 2021. Kylie Masse of Canada in action REUTERS/Marko Djurica
And Kylie Masse, Canada’s queen of the backstroke, enhanced her reputation as an elite competitor on Friday in Tokyo, taking silver in the 200-metre backstroke for her second medal of these Olympics.
The powerful yet even-keeled swimmer from LaSalle, Ont. earned her second silver of the meet, pairing with to the one she captured in the 100 metres event earlier in the week.
The second silver may have been the most impressive, however, as the 25-year-old has emphasized the longer distance as a complement to her past success in the 100 metres.
“My 200 has come a long way, I didn’t even make the team in it in 2016,” Masse said to reporters following the race. “It’s taken me years to get here. I’m really happy with my progress and proud of being able to get to the podium.”
The podium is certainly familiar territory for Masse, who regularly reaches it in all levels of international competition in which she competes. She won a bronze in the 100 backstroke in Rio and was arguably Canada’s most impressive swimmer in the five years since, twice capturing a world championship gold in the 100 back.
Masse had a clear strategy going into Friday’s race and it almost resulted in gold. She led after 100 metres and again after 150 only surrendering her margin in the closing strokes to Australian gold medallist Kaylee McKeown. Masse’s time of 2:05.42 was a Canadian record.
(From R) Canada’s Kylie Masse, USA’s Phoebe Bacon, Australia’s Emily Seebohm, USA’s Rhyan Elizabeth White, Australia’s Kaylee McKeown and Canada’s Taylor Ruck compete in the final of the women’s 200m backstroke swimming event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre in Tokyo on July 31, 2021. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)
Like so many of her teammates, Masse has shown her ability to rise to the occasion. She’s clearly a stronger swimmer now which only adds to her prowess in both backstroke distances.
“She’s a very well thought out person,” Swimming Canada head coach and high performance director, John Atkinson said of Masse.
“She’s very able to do what she needs to do in the team environment. She’s focused and adaptable in being able to do what she needs to do to perform.”
With her personal Olympic medal count up to three, Masse has the opportunity to add another when she swims the backstroke leg in the 4 x 100 medley relay on Saturday.
“I have high expectations for myself, but I am really happy to have gotten on the podium a second time at the Olympics,” Masse said. “It’s really an honour.”
Masse’s silver was Canada’s fifth swimming medal of the Games, all from women and opens the possibility of matching the six medals the team won at the 2016 Rio Games. Taylor Ruck, who also qualified for the 200 final, finished sixth in the backstroke.