Swimming superstar Emma McKeon’s journey to the Paris Olympics has faced a setback as Australia’s most decorated Games athlete contends with a torn muscle beneath her armpit.
McKeon was originally slated to participate alongside the returning Cate Campbell in the 100m freestyle heats at the Queensland swimming championships in Brisbane on Monday, December 11. However, McKeon’s empty lane quickly drew attention with Coach Michael Bohl later confirming the decision to withdraw her, emphasising it as a precautionary measure.
Bohl revealed that McKeon had been grappling with a “minor tear under her armpit for some weeks” and emphasised the medical advice to exercise caution rather than hastily returning to competition.
While McKeon was absent from the pool, fellow swimmer and boyfriend of McKeon, Cody Simpson, qualified fastest for Monday night’s 100m butterfly final in a boost for his Olympic selection stocks.
The championships at Chandler’s Brisbane Aquatic Centre mark the concluding event of the year. Looking ahead, the Olympic swimming trials are scheduled for the same venue from June 10, just five weeks before the 2024 Paris Games.
McKeon won four golds at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and seven medals in total.
It was the most by any female swimmer at a single Olympic Games and the joint-most medals across any sport with Soviet gymnast Maris Gorokhovskaya, who achieved the feat in 1952.
Despite the recent setback, McKeon has cemented her status as one of Australia’s most successful athletes.
During the Birmingham Commonwealth Games in 2022, McKeon brought her gold medal tally up to 13 with a series of impressive swims during the games.
During the 4 x 100m individual medley mixed relay on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 McKeon extended her lead as Australia’s most decorated Commonwealth Games athlete, taking home the gold.
She swam the anchor leg in freestyle for the mixed medley alongside Kaylee McKeown (backstroke), Zac Stubblety-Cook (backstroke) and Matt Temple (butterfly), blitzing their competitors with a combined time of 3:41.30.
McKeon’s 13th gold came hot on the heels of her previous gold medal performance, only a day before, in the 50m butterfly final, in a time of 25.90 seconds.
McKeon has well and truly surpassed Australian swimmers such as Susie O’Neill, Ian Thorpe, and Leisel Jones who each have 10 gold medals.