- Associated Press - Thursday, August 11, 2016

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Donetta Cothran had a question for her colleagues in the School of Public Health after Sunday night’s Olympic breaststroke semifinal.

“I was asking them which one taught the finger wag in their class,” she said.

Cothran, a kinesiology professor at Indiana University, was referring to Lilly King’s now-famous display of disapproval for Yulia Efimova, who had previously been banned from Olympic competition as part of Russia’s doping scandal, but was reinstated without explanation. NBC cameras caught the IU sophomore wagging her finger at a TV showing Efimova raising her index finger to signal her win in the breaststroke semifinal.

“You’re shaking your finger No. 1 and you’ve been caught for drug cheating,” King told NBC after winning her own semifinal race. “I’m just not a fan.”

That was how much of the world was introduced to King, and IU faculty members who know the physical education major say it’s a pretty accurate representation of who she is.

“She’s not afraid to express herself and to also give a reason as to why she’s doing what she’s doing,” said Ann Huntoon, a lecturer in the School of Public Health.

Huntoon had King in her 9 a.m. foundations of physical education and fundamental movements class when King was a freshman last fall. King would be there wide awake each morning, having already completed a full workout, lifted weights and eaten breakfast.

“If every student was that driven and that awake at 9 a.m., that would be wonderful,” Huntoon said.

Keith Chapin, a faculty member in the kinesiology department who served as King’s academic adviser, said she is an exceptional student. She came to IU having already earned several college credits while she was in high school and now has one of the highest GPAs in her program, he said.

“She’s an achiever in many dimensions of her life,” he said. “She’s very well-liked by her peers.”

Those peers had no problem teasing King about her nutrition habits. She doesn’t like coffee, so she drinks Coke before a meet to get a little caffeine boost. A creature of habit, she has a McDonald’s happy meal on Tuesdays and a dozen doughnuts after Sunday morning practice.

“It’s amazing what you can do when you’re burning 15,000 calories a day,” Cothran said. “She takes her training seriously, but she’s also a 19-year-old college student.”

The jokes don’t seem to bother King, who has a cool confidence that’s rare for students her age. Students in Cothran’s classes often go into the community to teach children at local schools or the YMCA. Despite the best plan, young and rowdy kids can force Cothran’s students to adjust on the fly. That can be very challenging.

“It’s not unusual for someone to melt down, and that’s why we practice,” Cothran said. “Like all students, she plans well, but she also doesn’t get flustered.”

The same couldn’t be said for Cothran, as she waited for Monday night’s women’s 100-meter breaststroke final. She knew King was one of the fastest swimmers in the world, but at that level, the difference between winning and losing often comes down to hundredths of a second. It ended up coming down to seven hundredths, as King set a new Olympic record with a time of 1 minute, 4.93 seconds. Efimova finished second with a time of 1:05.50.

While the rest of the world may know King as the finger-wagging gold medalist, Cothran expects to see the same fun, confident student return to Bloomington this fall.

“I doubt she wears her gold medal to class the first day,” Cothran said. “I expect she’ll still be working hard, enjoying herself and her classmates, and it’ll be a really good year.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/2aXb4s6

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Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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