Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin

Emma could leave Aussie legends in her wake with record haul of medals


laps is all that stands between Gold Coast swimmer Emma McKeon and Australian sporting immortalit­y.

It sounds simple enough but it’s a monumental challenge because each of those laps will have to be swum at full pace against the best swimmers in the world, including her own teammates.

No one, least of all McKeon, will dare talk about her medal prospects for fear of jinxing her but the 27-year-old Griffith University swimmer could be on the verge of becoming Australia’s greatest Olympian and one of the greatest the world has ever seen.

If everything goes according to plan, McKeon could collect seven medals in Tokyo. It’s a mind-blowing propositio­n and the odds are stacked against her but don’t dare rule McKeon out because she’s as tough as nails.

To put her challenge in perspectiv­e, consider this.

The most medals won by a female swimmer at a single Olympics is six, jointly held by Kristin Otto and Natalie Coughlin.

The most medals any woman has won at a single Olympics is seven, by the Soviet gymnast Maria Gorokhovsk­aya.

The men’s record is eight, by another Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin, and American swimmer Michael Phelps.

But they’re not the only historical records McKeon is chasing.

The record for the most medals won by an Australian at a single Olympics is five – jointly held by Shane Gould, Ian Thorpe and Alicia Coutts – while the Australian record for career medals is nine, which Thorpe and Leisel Jones share.

McKeon already has four medals from the 2016 Rio OlymTWENTY-five pics and the inclusion of the mixed medley relay on the program for Tokyo has opened the door for her to have a crack at moving to the top of the list.

Of her seven events, four are in relays which the Australian­s are expected to medal in.

Individual events are harder to predict but McKeon is currently ranked No.1 in the world in 50m freestyle and 100m freestyle and third in 100m butterfly so she has a

shot in all of them.

McKeon actually qualified for four individual events in Tokyo but dropped the 200m freestyle because her schedule was already so full.

“I think it’s a mistake to get greedy at the Olympics. You’ve got to be very selective in what you do,” her coach Michael Bohl said.

“We just took a very careful look at the sequencing of things and just made sure that we made the right decisions, because once you make a decision, there’s no going back.”

Assuming she makes the final of her three individual events and is spared from swimming the heats in the relays, McKeon’s schedule for Tokyo is already jam packed.

She will race 13 times in all, spread over eight of the nine days of swimming competitio­n at the Tokyo Aquatic Centre.

In total, she will swim 1.25 kilometres, or 25 laps, with 750m of freestyle and 500m of butterfly.

“I’m used to the big program,” McKeon said.

“For the last how many years I’ve been on the team I’ve been preparing for that and our weekly training prepares for that.”

In a team packed with stars, McKeon has long been Australia’s most reliable medal winner, stepping on to the podium four times at the Rio Olympics then six times at the last world championsh­ips, but mostly in relays.

Although she won a bronze medal in 200m freestyle in Rio and bronze in the 100m butterfly at the world titles, McKeon hasn’t won an individual gold at world or Olympic level.

Bohl, who mastermind­ed Stephanie Rice’s triple gold medal winning performanc­es at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, thinks Tokyo could be her time to break through.

 ??  ?? Emma McKeon.
Emma McKeon.

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