After a simply spectacular showing in Budapest, Australia has its eye on a new swimming golden girl during the World Championships.
Mollie O’Callaghan has been blitzing the field while putting the rest of the world on notice ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in July.
After becoming a double Olympic relay gold medallist at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the youngster has been plying her trade alongside swimming greats Emma McKeon, Bronte Campbell, Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm.
Speaking to her teammate Australian Dolphin Madi Wilson, it is evident that the legacy of these aforementioned legends has been set and will continue to inspire the female swimmers. She also speaks about O’Callghan’s development in the sport and the heights she can reach.
“I think the legacy that Cate and Bronte (Campbell) have made in the freestyle events and the women before them it’s made it so competitive event and you saw it in the Australian Age Championships,” Wilson said.
“[The] young girls were pushing some amazing times so I think the relay doesn’t have too much to worry about there, I think that with the depth that we have and continuing to come through it will still be an amazing relay.
“I think that when you set a bar really high, I think there is nothing else for anyone else to do but to rise above that level and like Cate did for such a long time, everyone had to continually push themselves to be better than the rest of the world.
“I think that’s what we did and what we continue to do and what the young ones, that group is also doing, which is amazing to see, it’s amazing to be a part of because it’s so special.
“The freestyle relays [and] the women’s freestyle relays, we have such a great history now, it’s exciting to see how fast the times are by the younger generation coming through just to know that this relay will continue to be ours.”
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One of those that have benefited from the experience of those greats, O’Callaghan is set to be a big swimming star of the future.
To win her second gold medal of the Worlds, 18-year-old O’Callaghan became the youngest women’s 100m freestyle world champion in more than 30 years.
This puts her in elite company overcoming the record holder Swedish swimmer Sarah Sjostrom by 0.13 seconds in the final.
She was sitting sixth at the turn but hit her straps in the swim home touching the wall first even though she looked like she would miss out on a podium place halfway through.
She topped off her hattrick by winning the mixed 4x100m relay gold alongside Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers and Madi Wilson. They did this while achieving a new world record of 3.19.38 which took two-hundredths of a second off the United States’ record.
O’Callaghan spoke after the race about her coach Dean Boxall and how her pregame nerves almost got the better of her.
“It’s absolutely weird right now to think that I am a World Champion,” O’Callaghan said.
“I was panicking a little in the warm-up, I had a little cramp in my leg and I just felt a little out of it.
“I had teammates like Madi Wilson there and especially Dean supporting me which gave me the lift I needed for this race.
“I had to just trust myself and focus on my race, especially for my back end.
“I was just thinking I had to try and stick with the girls and execute Dean’s race plan as best I could and at the end of the day it was about the experience, not necessarily time. Gaining that experience has been awesome this week.”
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