Cate Campbell Ready To give Tokyo “A Red Hot Crack….With A Little Bit Of Lady Luck”

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SISTERS IN ARMS: Aussie sister-act Cate and Bronte Campbell doing it for the girls. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr (Swimming Australia)

Rest assured that when Cate Campbell stands in front of the media she will be entertaining, fun, considered, have a laugh at herself, cleverly deflect or give her opinion on whatever the story of the day is.

Yesterday it was her age, Mack Horton, Fina, the Sun Yang sentence, the AIS, the 100m freestyle, the 4x100m freestyle camp, Coronavirus and a fourth Olympic campaign.

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YES: Happy with that. Cate Campbell clinches another win. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia

“I’m nearing 30 years old (she turns 28 in May); can you believe it ?…Like in swimming it is very senior pushing 30…” Campbell quipped.

Venue was the AIS pool in Canberra for the Australian Dolphins 4x100m freestyle National Camp – a facility built after a disastrous 1976 Olympics that saw the Australian swim team arrive home with a lone bronze medal to the original “Superfish” Steve Holland in the 1500m freestyle.

And now some 40 years after it was opened in 1980, and after much adieu in recent times about its existence and place in the Australian world of sport, along comes Cate Campbell.

“All the girls were commenting on how warm the water is; perfect temperature for us sprinters and it’s great we are still using this facility…I remember visiting it on my Grade 7 camp and being blown away,” said the woman who is now very much face of this team as the countdown to Tokyo (Coronavirus forbid) hots up.

“I think that as long as athletes are here and utilizing the facility then it should be available, ” said Campbell, who is preparing for what she hopes will be a record-equaling fourth Olympics.

Tokyo for Campbell and her fellow 2008 debutant Emily Seebohm would see the pair equal Leisel Jones record (2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012) as the only Australian swimmer to contest four Olympics.

“It’s very surreal that I’m still here talking about Tokyo and a fourth Olympics,” said Campbell.

“It’s really exciting; I feel like I’ve grown a lot as a person, I’ve changed, I’m really excited, I’ve said this is probably my last Olympics but I’m not going to say that it is.

“For me it’s a chance to celebrate.”

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GOLDEN RINGS: Cate Campbell chasing a third straight 4x100m freestyle relay gold, Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

And what about the 100m freestyle? The event she went in favourite for as the world record holder in 2016 and touched the wall outside the medals.

“Over the past two years I haven’t been as dominant on the world stage in the 100m freestyle; I think its been very evenly spread,” said Campbell.

“It is probably one of the most competitive events on the swimming, program and has been for many many years…that has definitely helped.”

Campbell said she had gained a new perspective on swimming, given her time away from the sport in 2017.

“Important to make sure I’m enjoying every moment because it’s not going to last forever,” said Campbell.

“That was something I realized after Rio; just how much it meant to me and how transient it is and that I will have to transition into life after sport.

“For me it’s just about enjoying every moment as it comes and really making the most of it….”

And whether she thought it would take a world record to win the gold in Tokyo?

“I think you’ll find that most finals at an Olympic Games don’t result in a world record, the nature of a pressure cooker like an Olympic Games but I think it will take an incredibly fast time,” said Campbell.

“It will be the person who can stand up and be the best on the day…the stars align for 52 seconds every four years….”

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THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT: Doing your best for the team. Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr/Swimming Australia Ltd.

And the girls are in town for a National Camp as they plot their defence of the sprint relay.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get all the 100m freestyle girls together and we’ve got some youngsters; we’ve got a few oldies and everyone can learn off each other, it’s a really good chance to consolidate our relay preparation,” said Campbell.

“It’s an event Australia has been so dominant in over the past few years and it’s something we really need to continue to work at and you can’t be complacent with it.

“You have to have everyone working together on their skills; that’s really important; relays are so much fun and for everyone to pull together. I always do my best swims in relays. I don’t know what it is, maybe something about swimming with other people….if swimming was a team sport maybe I’d be a little bit better at it.

“I really enjoy swimming with a team; it’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone to come together and there’s always medals on the line which is always good….and it shows the depth in swimming in Australia.

“For such a small country to be able to put together such strong relays year in and year out shows we have great depth, great coaches, and we have a great system that helps support that…”

Gold in the relay in 2020 would see Campbell stake a rare claim of being part of three consecutive gold medal relays after joining with Melanie Schlanger, Brittany Elmslie and Alicia Coutts in London in 2012 and sister Bronte Campbell, Emma McKeon and Elmslie in Rio.

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CLASS OF ’56: The Melbourne golden girls in the 4x100m freestyle (L-R) Sandra Morgan, Faith Leech, Dan Fraser and Lorraine Crapp. Photo Courtesy: Olympic Gold (Kevin Berry and Robin Poke).

The Aussies had won the event on two previous occasions in Melbourne in 1956 with Dawn Fraser, Lorraine Crapp, Faith Leech and Sandra Morgan and in 2004 with Jodie Henry, Libby Lenton, Petria Thomas and Alice Mills.

And this just about sums up the girl who went in Beijing at 16 and is the “nearing 30” woman preparing for Tokyo.

“ I just want to make sure I give this a red hot crack…you need a little bit of lady luck to get there in the end an hopefully it will shine on me…..” said Campbell.