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Belmonte strikes gold: “I’ve dreamt about this my whole life”

Mireia Belmonte-Garcia won Spain's first gold of the Rio Olympics with victory in the women's 200m butterfly on Wednesday.

Belmonte strikes gold: “I’ve dreamt about this my whole life”
DOMINIC EBENBICHLER REUTERS

Mireia Belmonte won Spain's first gold of the Rio Olympics with victory in the Women's 200m butterfly on Wednesday.

Belmonte, who claimed silver in London four years ago, pipped Australia's Madeline Groves in a pulsating Rio final to touch in 2min 04.85sec, for a winning margin of just three hundredths of a second.

Japan's Natsumi Hoshi, the reigning world champion, clocked 2:05.20 to match the bronze medal she took in London after a disappointing swim.

It was Belmonte's second medal of the Rio swimming competition after the 25-year-old took bronze in the 400m individual medley earlier in the week.

"I couldn't believe it," the Spaniard said afterwards. "I can't believe it now. I knew that the second 100 metres were my forte. I suffered a lot in the last few metres but this is what I dreamed about my whole life”.

China's hopes of a hat-trick of victories after winning this event in 2008 and 2012 were dashed as Zhou Yilin and Zhang Yufei could only place fifth and sixth respectively.

While perhaps lacking the crackling intensity of a Michael Phelps race, the battle between Belmonte and Groves, who led for most of the contest, brought Brazilian fans to their feet with Hoshi also briefly threatening a late fightback.