Emma McKeon added a couple of chapters in the history books by becoming the first female athlete in any sports at the Olympics since 1956 who claimed seven medals in a single edition. She won the 50-100m free, was part of two triumphant Aussie relays (4x100m free and medley) and had three more bronze in the 100m fly and in the 4x200m free and the mixed medley relay. Her count stands at 11 medals, the most any Australian ever amassed.
Just like the man of the meet USA’s Caeleb Dressel, Emma McKeon had a less spectacular but still fine run at the 2016 Olympics. She came third in the 200m free (was 6th in the 100m fly) and swam in three medal-winning relays, got gold in the 4x100m free and silver both in the 4x200m free and the 4x100m medley.
“I feel like I’ve prepared for that”
However, similarities with Dressel ends here as McKeon had a great collection of World Championship medals but she is yet to win an individual title. She has earned 17 medals since her debut in Kazan 2015 but only three came in individual events, the other 14 (including the four golds) were all relay podiums.
It seems the extra year worked in her favour as she started blossoming this spring, posting incredibly fast swims in succession and as a world rank leader she was a sure bet for the sprinting double and more success in the relays as the Aussie female swimmers hit an extremely high level at this Olympic meet.
All these were successfully transformed into silverware – her seven-medal haul is the most so far in Tokyo in all sports and may hardly be matched in the second week of the Games.
McKeon was ready for the challenge, for sure. “I feel like I’ve prepared for that. I’ve been at these kinds of meets before where I’ve been up and down, so I knew what to expect. I feel like me and Bohly (coach - Michael Bohl) prepared for that.
I feel like it has been a bit of a roller coaster getting a gold medal and trying to keep the emotions at bay. It will take a while to sink in because I’ve been focusing on myself to keep my cool. I’m very proud of myself. I wouldn’t be able to do it without all the support around me.”
“I’ve never really looked at the stats of medal counts”
She earned an everlasting place in the history books. “It does mean a lot to me and to the team I have got behind me. They put in just as much hard work as I have. I just look forward to celebrating a little bit with them. It is overwhelming."
A bit later she added some more thoughts on taking on the top position in the all-time Aussie medal charts in Olympic history.
“That’s also very surreal, I only hear those stats from you guys (in the media). I look at the athletes who have come before me and been so impressed with what they have done and been inspired by what they have done, but I’ve never really looked at the stats of medal counts. It is an honour because I know I’ve worked so hard for it.”
Besides her, the entire Australian swimming team was on fire, they ended up with their best-ever performance with 9 titles and 20 medals in total.
Look at the Swimming Medal Table
“That’s amazing to come away with that many medals. I think everyone worked incredibly hard especially over the last five years. We had a lot of young people come through. We had a lot of people who inspired those people coming through. Watching the previous Olympics and seeing the medal tallies and now, to be a part of something like that now, it is an honour to be a part of it.”