Commonwealth Games: Mollie O’Callaghan Leads Shayna Jack, Emma McKeon in 100 Freestyle Australian Sweep

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Emma McKeon, Shayna Jack & Mollie O'Callaghan (left to right) celebrate an Australian sweep in the women's 100 freestyle -- Photo Courtesy: Delly Carr

Commonwealth Games: Mollie O’Callaghan Leads Shayna Jack, Emma McKeon in 100 Freestyle Australian Sweep

It was an intra-Australian clash in the women’s 100 freestyle final at the Commonwealth Games as the old guard, a veteran of Aussie championship teams for the last decade and the female sprint star of the Tokyo Olympics, clashed with the women who successfully led Australia onto the global stage earlier this year. Last year, Emma McKeon became just the second woman in history to break 52 seconds in the 100 free as she captured Olympic gold, but in McKeon’s absence at the World Championships, 18-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan showed amazing comeback speed as she claimed the world title in the event while Shayna Jack joined O’Callaghan in leading Australia’s victorious 400 free relay before a broken hand forced her out of the individual event.

The three Australians were the three fastest qualifiers for the 100 free Commonwealth final as Australia looked to go gold, silver, bronze for the third individual event of these Games. Previously, McKeon and Jack were part of the 50 free sweep, while O’Callaghan finished between two teammates in the 200 free.

In the final, McKeon and Jack used their early speed to get out fast, with Jack flipping just two hundredths ahead of McKeon and another tenth ahead of England’s Anna Hopkin, with O’Callaghan in fourth place. But the teenager was superior once again on the second 50, where her split (26.78) was less than a second behind her opening length (25.85) and the best in the field by more than a half-second.

O’Callaghan finished in 52.63, short of her season-best mark of 52.49 that ranks first in the world that ranks her eighth all-time, but she successfully won the sixth consecutive Commonwealth Games gold medal for Australia in the event, joining previous winners Jodie HenryLibby LentonAlicia CouttsCate Campbell and Bronte Campbell.

“I’m really happy. And I’m happy to do it with these amazing girls, especially Emma,” O’Callaghan said on Australia’s Seven Sport, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “She is an absolute idol, so it is really nice to race alongside her this time. And especially Shayna Jack too, coming back from stuff, so I’m very happy.”

O’Callaghan won by a quarter-second ahead of Jack’s 52.88 (compared to her top time of 52.60 that ranks second in the world behind O’Callaghan. McKeon, competing in her first long course meet since the Olympics, earned bronze in 52.94, around a second off her top 2021 mark but good enough to make her the fifth-fastest performer in the world.

“It is incredible. We get to push each other, year in and year out. And it ups the standard every time. You forge the pathway for us to do that, so we’re pretty lucky,” McKeon said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “After last year, I needed to keep pushing. And I know all over the world there will be young ones coming through and I have these two back home to race all the time. And I’m still hungry as ever. I think that I put into perspective, I probably did better than I should have here as well. So, I’m just so stoked to be here and be in the 100 with those girls.”

Hopkin ended up fourth in 53.57, while teammate Freya Anderson touched in fifth (54.00).

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