Swim star Campbell fails to make fifth Olympics, pop star Simpson misses out

By AFP
June 16, 2024
Australia’s Cate Campbell (C) missed out on making a fifth Olympics. — AFP File

BRISBANE: Shayna Jack and Meg Harris booked Australia´s two spots in the Olympic 50m freestyle Saturday, with Tokyo gold medallist Emma McKeon and a tearful fellow veteran Cate Campbell missing out.

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Pop star-turned swimmer Cody Simpson was another casualty on the sixth and final day of the Australian Olympic trials in Brisbane, failing to make the grade in the men´s 100m butterfly.

Jack hit the wall in a sizzling 23.99secs, dipping under 24.00 for the first the time, ahead of Harris in 24.26.

Their 1-2 came at the expense of third-placed McKeon and Campbell, a long-time Australian stalwart who was bidding to make a fifth Games but came seventh.

Campbell´s sister Bronte also missed out, as did Mollie O´Callaghan who had already booked swims in the 100m and 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke in Paris.

All the top six were under the qualifying time.

"I´m absolutely so proud of that swim, I finally cracked 24," said Jack, who also qualified for the 100m freestyle.

"For me, I´m just approaching every race trying to have fun. I missed out on the 2021 Olympics (in Tokyo) so really wanted to come here and see what I´m capable of."

Jack was unable to swim in Tokyo due to a two-year doping ban, having always proclaimed her innocence.

McKeon, Australia´s most decorated Olympian with 11 medals, including five gold, also failed to qualify for the defence of her 100m freestyle crown, but will be in France for the 100m butterfly.

However, defeat drew a curtain on the Olympic career of 32-year-old Cate Campbell that garnered eight medals, including four gold.

A fixture in Australia's 100m freestyle relay teams since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Cate Campbell was devastated after failing to qualify for the final.

She has an uphill battle to win a 50m freestyle berth and secure a fifth Games appearance.

Her younger sister Bronte, however, finished fourth in the 100m final to nab a spot on the relay team along with Meg Harris (third) and 18-year-old surprise package, Olivia Wunsch (fifth).

Bronte Campbell struggled to hold back tears as she paid tribute to 32-year-old Cate, who won two relay golds at Tokyo and the individual 100m bronze.

"I felt devastated for my sister this morning," she said.

She was in tears as the other swimmers embraced her in the pool.

"It is bittersweet, it is not the fairytale ending I was hoping for, I have worked so hard for," said Campbell, who made her first Olympic team aged 15. "The mind was willing, but the body was a little bit lacking."

Simpson´s dream was also shattered when he finished fifth behind winner Matt Temple.

A talented junior swimmer, he turned to music and made three albums, touring the world.

After working with Justin Bieber and publicly dating celebrities Miley Cyrus and Gigi Hadid, he returned to the sport in 2020.

Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Brendon Smith ensured he will again be challenging for a podium place by taking out the men´s 400m medley in 4:10.18 ahead of William Petric (4:11.78), who also made the grade.

Ella Ramsay (4:36.56) and Jenna Forrester (4:38.16) both hit the mark in the women´s 400m medley.

Teenager Ramsay has been a revelation, also qualifying for the 100m breaststroke and 200m medley.

Kaylee McKeown swam the fourth fastest 400m medley in history in April, but dropped the event to focus on the 200m medley and 100m and 200m backstroke, where she will defend her Olympic titles.

Lani Pallister won the women´s 1500m freestyle in 15:53.79, adding it to her Olympic schedule which will also include the 400m and 800m freestyle, with open water swimmer Moesha Johnson also booking a ticket.

US swimmers 'frustrated' at Chinese doping scandal as Olympic trials begin

America's 100m breaststroke world record-holder Lilly King called the latest doping scandal involving Chinese swimmers "disappointing and frustrating" as the sport gears up for its ultimate showcase at the Paris Olympics. "It´s extremely frustrating for the athletes to always have in the back of our mind that maybe this sport´s not fair," King said on the eve of the US Olympic trials, which started Saturday in Indianapolis, Indiana.

"You know, when we put everything on the line, our privacy, really, everything that we do to compete with a level playing field, it´s extremely frustrating to not have faith that others are doing the same thing."

King said it had been a "very interesting last couple weeks, months, and trying to focus on the meet but also kind of move forward with this.

"But those thoughts are always in the back of my mind," she said.

The New York Times reported Friday that three Chinese swimmers who were among 23 involved in a drug scandal before the Tokyo Olympics had also tested positive for clenbuterol several years earlier.

The Times said the three athletes -- including two 2021 Olympic gold medallists and a current world record holder -- tested positive for the banned steroid in 2016 and 2017.

Chinese authorities argued the three athletes had ingested the substance inadvertently through contaminated meat, and no disciplinary action was taken -- WADA defending that decision on Friday after the New York Times story was published.

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