Canada's Kylie Masse beats rivals for gold in backstroke thriller
World champ edges Seebohm, Baker in tight Pan Pacific final
Canada's Kylie Masse won gold in the women's 100-metre backstroke Friday at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in Tokyo.
Masse, the reigning world champion in the event and the 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, out-touched former world champ Emily Seebohm of Australia and world-record holder Kathleen Baker of the United States in an exciting final.
Watch Masse beat her rivals for gold:
Masse's time of 58.61 seconds put her just 0.11 of a second ahead of Seebohm and 0.22 ahead of Baker, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist.
Masse, 22, from LaSalle, Ont., had broken the meet record earlier with a 58.29 in the preliminary round.
The three medallists were the same at last year's world championships, when Baker finished second and Seebohm took third. Masse took the title away from Seebohm and set the world record in that race, only to see Baker break it this summer at the U.S. nationals.
"It's always a great race when they're in there for sure," Masse said. "It's great competition and we all push each other. We're also friendly with each other in the ready room, which I think is awesome. It's awesome for backstroke moving forward to have that kind of competitive rivalry."
Watch what Masse had to say about her big win:
Masse's victory was the second in as many days for a Canadian woman at this meet. On Thursday, Taylor Ruck defeated American superstar Katie Ledecky to win the 200-metre freestyle event.
Ruck added two more medals Friday. After taking bronze in the 100-metre freestyle, she teamed with Kayla Sanchez, Rebecca Smith and Mackenzie Padington for a bronze in the 4x200 freestyle relay.
Watch Canada take bronze in the 4x200 relay:
Ruck's personal best of 52.72 seconds in the 100 was the second fastest in Canadian history, just 0.02 off Penny Oleksiak's Olympic gold-winning time. Australia's Cate Campbell won in 52.03, while Simone Manuel of the United States was second in 52.66.
Watch Ruck take bronze in the 100 free:
"That was amazing, I can't even describe it. It was so cool to be part of that race," Ruck said. "I felt really good in that race. The first 50 I went out pretty good and smooth and the last 50 I just tried to hang on and tried to race Cate and Simone."
Watch how Ruck and her team try to keep her grounded:
On the men's side, Mack Darragh of Oakville, Ont., finished fifth in the 200 butterfly, while Javier Acevado of Scarborough was fifth and Markus Thormeyer of Vancouver was sixth in the 100 backstroke.
The Pan Pacific Championships are happening two years out from the Tokyo Olympics. The meet features world swimming powers Australia and the United States and also includes other non-European countries such as Canada, Japan, China and several others.
CBCSports.ca's live streaming coverage continues Saturday at 5:10 a.m. ET and runs through the end of the meet on Sunday.
Rivard adds another para gold
At the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships, being held in Australia, Canada's Aurélie Rivard captured gold for the second straight day, winning the women's 100-metre freestyle S10 Friday after breaking her own world record in the 400 free on opening night.
The 22-year-old's time of 59.45 was good for a 0.34-second win over New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe.
"It's my best time since the Rio Games, so it's really good," said Rivard, who set the S10 world record of 59.17 in 2015 before claiming Paralympic gold in 59.31 a year later. "I would have liked to go a little faster, but it still went well. I beat my rival and I'm really pleased with my race."
With files from The Canadian Press