Maggie Mac Neil
Maggie Mac Neil Image Credit: Supplied

Hannah Margaret McNair Mac Neil has a pretty busy name, but just like the girl, life is simple and she goes by Maggie.

The Canadian swimmer is in town in Abu Dhabi and relaxed as ever. She may be the Olympic and world champion in the women’s 100 metre butterfly event with a record to boot in 55.59s — but she takes everything in her stride.

She won the gold medal at both the 2019 World Aquatics Championships and the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo this year, and the hunger is still there for more as she competes at the Fina World Swimming Championships in the UAE — and maybe get to do some sightseeing in as well.

““I have accomplished everything I need to do in the pool as I am the champion,” Mac Neil told Gulf News in an exclusive chat. “The atmosphere here in Abu Dhabi is amazing and I hope to get out and explore the city. But first of all I need to do my job in the pool and I am so excited to get another gold in what is an amazing, superfast, purpose built pool at the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

“The great thing about swimming is there is always a new challenge and I really want to keep it going. That is always my focus and I really do not take any time off to make sure I am at the top — whether it is in training or in competition. Mentally my competitiveness is the same. That is what keeps me going.”

The 21-year-old is already a seasoned pro — despite her young age and grew up in London, Ontario and realised she wanted to become a pro while watching the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Fast-forward a decade and Mac Neil was part of the Canadian women’s team at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, tasting success in the 4×100m freestyle relay team, alongside Penny Oleksiak, Taylor Ruck, Kayla Sanchez, and Rebecca Smith. But she really came into her own in the 100m butterfly at the same meet, winning gold, stunning Olympic champion Sarah Sjostrom in the final.

Tokyo beckoned and she did not disappoint. winning bronze in the medley relay 100mx4, silver in the freestyle 100mx4 and gold in the 100m butterfly solo.

She puts it best herself: “I cannot be the best at everything but I always want to be the best I can be.”