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Birmingham Commonwealth Games high on Arnie’s hit parade

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After a stunning 2021 campaign that included winning two Olympic gold medals, the three-time Commonwealth Games gold medallist is now targeting the upcoming Birmingham Games.

Dual Tokyo Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus has revealed she wants to be at her peak for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 2022 Fina world championships will be swum before the Birmingham Games but Titmus is adamant she wants to defend her Commonwealth Games titles over 400m, 800m and 4x200m freestyle relay, and add the 200m freestyle she just missed in 2018.

In an already glittering career the 21-year-old Titmus has won 200m and 400m Olympic gold; 400m and 800m Commonwealth Games gold and she’s the reigning 400m world champion, both long course and short course.

The 400m freestyle showdown with US star Katie Ledecky in Tokyo was the most highly anticipated of all swimming events and one of the most anticipated races in any sport – a TV ratings winner in Australia and even in the US.

And it was Titmus who delivered one of the real golden moments of the Games for Australia when she rained on Ledecky’s parade in the 400m and then added the 200m for good measure.

It’s a busy year for Australia’s Dolphins in 2022, with the world championships in Fukuoka in May followed by the Birmingham Games in July-August.

But for Titmus, who returned to competition in December at the Queensland State Championships, winning both the 400m and 800m the worlds are not definite.

But the Commonwealth Games is certainly part of the grand plan for Titmus and coach Dean Boxall and she has made her intentions quite clear.

“I want to be at my peak for Commonwealth Games; I want to be swimming very well there,” Titmus told Commonwealth Games Australia.

“I loved the Gold Coast Games in 2018. Those Commonwealth Games for me felt like a mini-Olympics and I want to really be swimming my best that I can there.”

But together with coach Boxall, Titmus is still trying to figure out what the lead up to Birmingham will look like and whether or not worlds is on the cards or if it’s a meet they miss to focus on training for the Commonwealth Games.

“Either way it’s going to be a very busy year… I feel like it could potentially be as busy if not busier than this year,” said Titmus.

“I still have to figure out a few details but I can definitely say that it’s at the Commonwealth Games where I definitely want to be at my best.”

 

Ariarne was a star of the Tokyo Olympics winning two gold medals. (Getty Images)

 

The Australian world championship trials are in April and those swimmers who make the world’s team (two per event) will automatically be eligible for nomination for the Commonwealth Games team.

Commonwealth Games allows for three individual spots but those that don’t make the worlds team will have the opportunity to qualify at either the Sydney Open Meet at the Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre or the Monte Carlo (Monaco) Mare Nostrum meet (both on 18 and 19 June) to qualify for that third spot (if swimmers) are overseas after worlds.

“It’s good to know you (still) have that opportunity to make that team for Birmingham,” Titmus said.

“It means even if you don’t make worlds and most of your squad does and they are training overseas you could potentially tag along and then just race in Monaco to try and make the Commonwealth Games team and go straight to the (scheduled) staging camp in France.

“Or you stay home, swim the Sydney Open and fly straight to staging camp – either way I think they are good options.”

And a slice of Commonwealth Games history awaits Titmus, who will target the 200m, 400m and 800m – a triple only ever achieved once before by Australian Karen Moras in Edinburgh in 1970 – along and the 4x200m freestyle relay.

Canada’s Taylor Ruck stopped Titmus in 2018, edging the Australian out by just 0.04 in a gripping 200m on the Gold Coast and robbing her of a fourth gold.

And only one swimmer, the great Australian Tracey Wickham has ever defended the 400m and 800m freestyle double and she did that in Edmonton in 1978 and Brisbane in 1982.

And no Australian woman has even won the 200m, 400m, 800m and the 4x200m freestyle relay at one Games – a team Titmus was also part of in 2018.

Such is the depth of the Dolphins, Birmingham seems like the perfect place for history to be made and to set the records straight.

Rare feats indeed but nothing is beyond this girl from Tassie – they don’t call her “Arnie The Terminator” for nothing.

Australian Swimming Trials: SA Aquatic and Leisure Centre, Adelaide (April 4-9)

19th Fina World Swimming Championships: Marine Messe, Fukuoka (May 13-29)

XXII Commonwealth Games: Birmingham (July 28-August 8)

Ian Hanson for Commonwealth Games Australia

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