Elijah Winnington is a rising star making his name in the world of swimming today but in the last Commonwealth Games, the then 18-year-old was representing Australia for the first time.
The gold medal he won in the 4x200m freestyle relay team in front of family and friends is now a constant reminder of that first meet.
Born and bred on the Gold Coast, representing his country in his home state was his dream. He spoke about the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and the significance of swimming in his second games in Birmingham.
“The Commonwealth Games has such a special place in my heart,” Winnington explained.
“It was the first senior Australian team that I made and in my hometown on the Gold Coast, so they are actually some of the best memories that I have in swimming.
“I’m really looking forward to Birmingham and what England can offer but any time you can put on the green and gold and represent Australia is an honour. You have to pinch yourself and I’m lucky I get to do it twice this year.”
At the FINA World Championships in Budapest only months ago, Winnington was in flying form, claiming a maiden title in the Men’s 400m freestyle. Winnington swam a personal best time of 3:41.22 and he will be hoping he continues in that sort of form while retaining a newfound confidence.
“Worlds was an awesome result for me and winning my first world title,” he said.
“It’s really just for me, a confidence bank moving forward, I really want to draw upon that as I approach the next few weeks heading into the Commonwealth Games and really use that to my advantage and not see it as a pressure.”
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Since recovering from Worlds, Winnington is in the thick of training in France for the Commonwealth Games with the rest of the Australian swimming contingent. In the unique situation of coming off an official international meet and coming into another, the athletes are still recovering but progressing well ahead of Birmingham later this month.
“It is a weird year having World Championships and a Commonwealth Games,” Winnington said.
“[We are] sort of being in the middle of that preparation now, it took my body a little bit of time to recover after such a major meet like the World Championships.
“[For me to] be here in France, [with] great weather and my body is really coming back up and it’s about finding that rhythm and resetting, [that] was the biggest thing to go again for Commonwealth Games.”
Winnington explains how Australian swimming coach Dean Boxall has set out their training loads in France and their mindset ahead of Birmingham.
“So here in France we’ve started back into our main sets,” he said.
“Dean (Boxall) likes to say we are about 80 per cent of our normal main sets, it’s pretty hard to go straight back to 100 per cent, so we are doing main sets at the moment and a week and a half to two weeks that will slowly start to taper off as we head into Birmingham.”
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