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Hard work pays off for McKeown after reaching Olympic glory

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Image: Getty Images

 

Australia has finally won an elusive Olympic gold medal in the women’s backstroke after Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games alumni Kaylee McKeown touched the wall first in the 100m backstroke final.

Australia has won its third gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics courtesy of a record-breaking swim by Gold Coast 2018 team member and Olympic debutant Kaylee McKeown.

The Queenslander flew home ahead of the field to record an Olympic record time of 57:47 seconds, falling just 0.02 seconds behind the World record she set last month at the Australian Olympic trials.

 

It marks an incredible journey for the swimmer who made her major multi-sport event debut at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

McKeown made the final of both the 100m and 200m backstroke at the Gold Coast Games, finishing fourth in both disciplines.

This was just the begging of the journey for the then 16-year-old whose hard work and improvement has been on show for all to see since competing on the Gold Coast.

Her Olympic record-breaking swim was 2.61 seconds quicker than the time that granted her fourth place at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

 

 

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A post shared by Kaylee McKeown (@kaylee_mckeown)

Since competing at the Gold Coast 2018 Games, McKeown went on to claim her first major international medal at the 2019 World Championships in China, winning silver in the 200m backstroke.

McKeown has only gone from strength to strength in 2021, setting three national records in one weekend in the 200m, 100m and 50m backstroke at the Sydney Open.

Then of course came the World record-breaking 100m swim at the Australian Olympic trials.

Now, the young Aussie has topped it all off with an Olympic gold medal and an Olympic record to add to her collection.

“It’s definitely something that people dream of, it’s something I have dreamed of too,” McKeown told Channel 7 post-race.

“To make it a reality is really amazing.”

You wouldn’t have known by watching her, but McKeown understandably admitted to feeling nervous prior to the biggest race of her career.

“I’m just thankful I have a good support team,” she added.

“A few people before the race came up to me and said,’you’re the hardest trainer, just have all the faith in the world that you’ve got this’.”

Kaylee McKeown being congratulated by her “hero” Emily Seebohm.

 

Fellow Aussie and Commonwealth Games legend Emily Seebohm finished nearly a second behind McKeown in fifth and swam all the way over from lane 7 to lane 3 to be the first to congratulate her Dolphins teammate on the victory.

McKeown described Seebohm as her hero growing up as an aspiring backstroke swimmer for Australia.

“It was an awesome race to be a part of and I’m so, so happy for Kaylee,” Seebohm told Channel 7 after the race.

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