Another day, another gold for the Dolphins at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre but this one by Kaylee McKeown had a significance well beyond the fact that it was Australia’s first Olympic gold in the women’s 100m backstroke - the only event we had never previously won, and the 200th Olympic medal by an Australian woman.
This was one for the nation, certainly. But this was specifically for her father, Sholto, who died last August after a two-year battle with brain cancer. There is not a day goes by that she does not think of him and, of course, she always carries that permanent reminder with her, the touching tattoo on her foot which reads “I will always be with you.” It was her father’s parting gift to her.
After overcoming the hottest field arguably ever assembled in this race, swimming to within just .02sec of her own world record – doubly special because it was a morning swim and swimmers are accustomed to getting up for evening competition – McKeown paused for a moment to remember the dad she loves. “I hope you are proud,” she told Channel 7. “I’ll keep doing you proud.”
No doubt her mother Sharon and sister Taylor, who represented Australia are beaming with pride.
It was a moment of transition in Australian swimming as four-times Olympian Emily Seebohm, who placed fifth in a record-equalling third Olympic final, handed on the baton to her 20-year-old team-mate. With a silver in this event in London in 2012, Seebohm had been Australia’s most successful backstroker of all time, along with Bonnie Mealing, the Olympic runner-up at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.
For the full wrap of this morning’s action from the pool, visit the AOC’s website.