In the wide world of professional sport, generational talent can unfortunately blind the impeccable efforts of others in the eyes of both spectators and the media.
Some of the greatest examples funnily enough exist on the race track.
If not for the existence of Australia’s turf legends Winx and Black Caviar, then fellow gallopers Hartnell, Happy Clapper, and Hay List may just have their own statues planted around the entrances of our biggest tracks.
Athletes, like horses, have this in common.
In the pool, women’s middle to long-distance events in the modern era have been dominated by two individuals. Most notably USA’s Katie Ledecky and in more recent years Australia’s very own Ariarne Titmus, who together make up the greatest of all time.
Gold medals, world records, and classic finishes at the FINA World Championships, Olympics, and Commonwealth Games from these athletes flood the news, ultimately creating unsung performances.
Kiah Melverton, Australian Dolphin #775 is most definitely an unsung athlete, having spent the last few years sharing the podium with Ledecky and Titmus.
At 25 years old, Melverton still has time on her side to climb these ranks, a possible scenario given she trains under a notable coach in Dean Boxall in the same lane as Titmus in Brisbane.
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Melverton’s pet event is the 800m freestyle, earlier this year, she was able to claim silver in this event behind Ledecky at the most recent World Championships in Budapest and silver behind Titmus in Birmingham this past month.
No athlete wants to be the ‘best of the rest’, but in Melverton’s case, she is the ‘best of the rest’ right now outside the greatest there ever was, which in itself deserves higher praise.
The Inner Sanctum discussed this position among others with Melverton exclusively, which happened to be a concept that got the Olympian thinking.
“It feels weird when you look at it that way. I have never actually looked at myself in that way at all, that I am a top-performing Dolphin. It is hard to see myself in that light, given I am surrounded by so many great athletes,” Melverton continued.
“Under coach Dean Boxall, I am training with the best in the world. Ariarne Titmus is in my very lane, Mollie O’Callaghan, and Elijah Winnington are just a few lanes over. I think I do need to remind myself that I am swimming in the greatest era.”
By no means is it easy for someone in Melverton’s position to just accept coming second despite the current narrative, yet personal best times in recent meets have been great for this Dolphin’s mindset.
“It is hard to see myself as being competitive given Ledecky and Titmus have taken this entire sport to another level. But, feeling more confident and believing in myself has been something I have tried to work on, which has definitely improved coming off Budapest and Birmingham,” she explained.
“I am lucky to have teammates and people back home reminding me I am right there with the best, to back myself and take it all in, especially Dean Boxall, he has been enormous for me.”
Melverton’s obvious advantage outside of her natural ability and swimming versatility is her relationship with her great friend, training partner, and opponent Ariarne Titmus, which the Queenslander praised from both a physical and mental standpoint.
“Arnie is such an amazing person inside and outside of the pool. If there was ever a day that I would happen to beat her in a race, she would be the first person to come up and congratulate me. On those rare days where I touch her out in a set, she always compliments my efforts,” Melverton said.
“It’s amazing to know that we have each other’s back during those insanely hard sessions, which makes me love getting up on the blocks and racing next to her. Our relationship is super important.”
Eyes on Paris
It is common for athletes to achieve greatness and still be on the search for what can be done better, which in Melverton’s case is true after coming home from Europe with a stack of medals, personal best times, and a World Record in the 4×200 freestyle relay.
The best of Kiah Melverton is still to come and that means one thing, the Paris Olympics in 2024.
“We are definitely always looking one step ahead. Dean always mentions that Paris is the bigger picture, even before the Commonwealth Games. I am definitely always chasing a bigger goal,” Melverton said.
If you didn’t know Kiah Melverton before, now you do.
Timing is everything in competition, yet timing should never dull the extraordinary efforts of those in second, especially when those ahead are the best to ever wear a pair of goggles.
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