In the space of a week, USC Spartans swimmer Kaylee McKeown has gone from making her Olympic debut to becoming one of Australia’s most successful Olympians.
Kaylee, 20, claimed three gold medals and a bronze in the pool at the Tokyo Games and now sits equal 16th on the list of the nation’s top Olympic gold medal winners.
Kaylee’s four-medal haul puts her ahead of Stephanie Rice, who won three gold in Beijing in 2008, and just behind the great Shane Gould, who snared three gold, a silver and a bronze at the Munich Games in 1972.
It also makes her arguably the most decorated home-grown Sunshine Coast Olympian.
Kaylee, who put her rivals on notice in June when she set a new world record of 57.45 seconds for 100m backstroke, won her first gold medal last Tuesday in the 100m backstroke in a new Olympic record time of 57.47 seconds.
She backed this up by winning the 200m backstroke final on Saturday morning in 2:04.68 and graciously sharing the top of the medal ceremony podium with her childhood hero Emily Seebohm, who finished third.
As Australia’s fastest female backstroke swimmer, Kaylee was selected for two relay events – the mixed 4x100m medley relay (a new Olympic event) and the women’s 4x100m medley relay.
In the mixed medley race on Saturday night, she teamed up with Izaak Stubblety-Cook, Matthew Temple and Emma McKeon to claim bronze behind Great Britain and China.
In the women’s medley on Sunday, Kaylee joined Chelsea Hodges, Emma McKeon and Cate Campbell to clinch gold in an Olympic record time of 3:51.60, a split second ahead of the United States and a body length clear of Canada in third.
Kaylee is coached by USC Spartans high performance swim coach Chris Mooney, who is part of the Australian coaching squad in Tokyo.
There are six USC-affiliated athletes competing in the Tokyo Games. Results for the USC athletes to date are:
- Kaylee McKeown – gold medal in the 100m backstroke; gold medal in the 200m backstroke; bronze in the mixed 4x100m medley relay; and gold in the women’s 4x100m medley relay.
- Leah Neale – bronze medal in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
- Kaia Parnaby – pitched for the Australian softball team, which finished fifth.
Events involving USC athletes in the days ahead:
Monday 2 August
Maeve Plouff in women’s team pursuit qualifying race at 4.54pm. Link here.
Tuesday 3 August
Maeve Plouff in women’s team pursuit first round heats from 4.30pm. Link here.
MAYBE: Maeve Plouff in women’s team pursuit finals from 6.05pm. Link here.
Wednesday 4 August
Kareena Lee in women’s 10km marathon swimming at 7.30am. Link here.
– Terry Walsh