Australia’s McKeon fails to qualify for Olympic 100m freestyle defence

By AFP
June 15, 2024
Australia’s Mollie O’Callaghan (R) and Shayna Jack will swim the 100m freestyle at the Olympics. — AFP/file

BRISBANE: Olympic 100m freestyle champion Emma McKeon will not defend her title in Paris after missing out on qualifying Friday with Mollie O´Callaghan and Shayna Jack securing the two Australian slots at stake.

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O´Callaghan surged home on day five of the Australian trials in Brisbane in 52.33secs with Jack (52.72) second ahead of a top-class field.

No other country, including the United States, can boast such depth over the distance, with seven of the eight finalists under the qualifying time. Meg Harris and Bronte Campbell came third and fourth to be part of their formidable 4x100m relay team, who are not only Olympic champions but hold the world record and the eight fastest times in history. McKeon, Australia´s most decorated Olympian with 11 medals, including five gold, could only manage sixth behind teenager Olivia Wunsch.

The 30-year-old McKeon had already booked a ticket to France in the 100m butterfly and will still be part of the relay squad with six swimmers traditionally allowed. “It´s a very tough race to be in. 100 free has so much depth in it, and all these girls I respect so much and they´re so inspirational,” said 2023 world champion O´Callaghan, whose 200m freestyle world record was shattered by Ariarne Titmus this week.

“A little bit disappointed at the time, but that´s something I can work on for Paris.” Jack, who missed the Tokyo Olympics while serving a ban over an anti-doping rule violation she always denied, was emotional afterwards.

“I honestly have no words. It probably was a swim I thought I wasn´t capable of,” she said, fighting back tears. Such is Australia´s talent that Tokyo bronze medallist Cate Campbell, striving to make a fifth Olympics, didn´t even make the final.

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