Looking for someone to carry on your country’s butterfly legacy in spectacular fashion? Well, do not look any further. Hungary has a new golden boy in the men’s 200m butterfly as Kristof Milák smashed Michael Phelps’ 10-year old world record at the 18th FINA World Championships.
The 19-year old Milák dethroned reigning World Champion Chad le Clos with an unprecedented race to not only become the new world record holder, but also the first teenager to win the world title in this event since – cue the drum roll – Phelps in 2003.
When Phelps touched the wall in a record time of 1:51.51 at the 2009 World Championships in Rome, Milák was nine years old and competing in Youth Championships with his first television viewing memory of swimming being the London 2012 Olympics.
Fast forward to the present day, Milák stormed to gold by clocking a winning time of 1:50.73, an impressive 3.12 seconds ahead of Daiya Seto (1:53.86) from Japan who finished before South African superstar Chad le Clos (1:54.15).
“It is a tremendous honour to beat such a great man’s world record,” Milák said after his record-breaking race. “When I turned back and saw the time, 1:50.73, all the pressure and tension just went off my back and all the joy came out.”
Milák continued: “I have seen some of Phelps’ old races on video because of his tactics, but the quality was not really good, so it did not help me too much when it comes to copying or learning anything.”
A backstroke swimmer when growing up, Milák only began to swim the 100m butterfly five years ago. “I was not strong enough yet to swim longer distances,” he said.
Milák truly started to show glimpses of his promising potential by swimming to the men’s 200m butterfly title in 1:52.79 at last year’s European Championships in Glasgow. “I am the favourite now and everyone will try to catch me, but I shall be prepared for this,” said Milák.