Kyle Chalmers Deserves Celebration, Not Criticism, For Decision to Race at World Champs

CHALMERS Kyle LON London Roar (LON) ISL International Swimming League 2021 Match 8 day 1 Piscina Felice Scandone Napoli, Naples Photo Giorgio Scala / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Kyle Chalmers Deserves Celebration, Not Criticism, For Decision to Race at World Champs

There are several instances from history in which an athlete has yielded a position at a major international event to a competitor, consequently allowing that individual to realize a dream. Notably, Michael Phelps fits that description – on several occasions.

At the 2004 United States Olympic Trials, Phelps finished second in the 200-meter backstroke, finishing behind Aaron Peirsol. Phelps, though, didn’t see the 200 back fitting into his Athens Games program, which led to him withdrawing and handing the spot to Bryce Hunt. Eight years later, Phelps withdrew from the 200 freestyle after the Olympic Trials, a decision that gave Davis Tarwater a bid to the 2012 Olympics in London. Phelps also yielded his place in the final of the 400 medley relay at the Athens Games to Ian Crocker.

If Phelps had kept all of his places, no one would have complained.

During last week’s Australian Championships in Adelaide, there was considerable talk about Kyle Chalmers reversing his initial decision to bypass next month’s FINA World Championships in Budapest. By winning the 50 butterfly and placing second in the 100 fly, Chalmers EARNED a trip to Worlds. After weighing his options, the Australian decided to attend after all, along with racing at the Commonwealth Games in July/August.

Down Under, Chalmers’ decision sparked headlines because it meant Cody Simpson will not race in Budapest. Simpson is the pop star who has returned to his childhood love of swimming and impressed with his talent in the pool. Simpson finished third in the 100 butterfly, behind Matt Temple and Chalmers, in the process twice clocking efforts of sub-52.

Based on Chalmers’ original gameplan, many thought Simpson would head to the World Championships as the No. 2 Australian. Yet, with Chalmers shifting his mindset and chasing an opportunity to race a stroke that was a boyhood love, Simpson will now only compete at the Commonwealth Games, where each nation is allowed three competitors. In some circles, Chalmers was criticized for his decision and – worse – accused of making the call because Simpson is reportedly dating Emma McKeon, with whom Chalmers was formerly connected.

How sad.

There is a reason the word “earned” was capitalized earlier in this piece. Simply, Chalmers claimed his butterfly berths to the World Championships solely on merit, and regardless of his prior statements, he is entitled to race as a competitor in the events for which he qualified. We’re talking about world-class sports, not schoolyard recess, and Chalmers is among the elite names in swimming and has further goals to pursue. Specifically, he wants to contest the 100 butterfly at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, and going to Worlds is a chance to build toward that target.

“I’ve sacrificed my body and given everything to my sport and country for the past decade,” Chalmers wrote on social media amid the unnecessary controversy. “If I knew this was going to be the reaction and the respect I get, I would’ve never entered the race.”

Don’t be mistaken, the achievements of Simpson deserve applause. In a two-year stretch, he has developed into a world-class performer, with a Paris trip within reach. More, he recognized that he finished third and the fact that Chalmers was within his rights to race in Budapest.

However, Chalmers should never have been placed in the position of villain. Rather, his rise in the butterfly events, which complement his Olympic-champion status in the 100 freestyle, should be celebrated. The man has fought through shoulder injuries and set a new goal in the sport. Those efforts should have grabbed the headlines – nothing more.

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1 month ago

I can’t believe people even think they have the right to judge an athlete’s decision about competing or not. It’s no one’s business but the athlete’s.

1 month ago
Reply to  SETH

I don’t have a problem with his decision.

HOWEVER, pretty much everyone and anyone has the absolutely right to criticize professional athletes for anything at all. Especially people that the pay money, either directly or indirectly, that goes to pay the professional athletes. If a professional swimmer doesn’t want to be criticized, whether fairly, unfairly or somewhere in between, then he or she can just swim laps on their own at the local pool club.

Aussie swim fan
1 month ago
Reply to  Veritas

I attempted to post a logical & respectful comment a few days ago suggesting that all the media reporting, comments & hype surrounding Kyle, Cody & Emma is distracting to all swimmers but it has not been added.
Cody is not entitled to special treatment there are many other young swimmers more deserving of the publicity.
If Emma and/or Ariarne had decided to change their minds about competing, it would also have resulted in other young girls & possibly boys in the same situation.
They have worked hard for years & produced excellent times & would also have missed a spot but I’m sure there would not have been any fuss made about that. I know for a fact other swimmers in that situation that did not take it for granted nor was it reported that they had a place until they were officially informed.
All the hype & controversy is particularly unfair & distracting to Kyle & other participants.
Insinuations of jealousy is particularly disgusting.
Good luck to Kyle and, while I have nothing against Cody, I am tired of seeing his face being used for all the publicity. These events are for “swimmers” we do not need “pop star” publicity.
Let’s get this into perspective.

Peter Scott
27 days ago
Reply to  Veritas

As a professional athlete they do not have to agree with criticism whoever offers it up.

Conrad Muruto
1 month ago

Cheers to Chalmers!

28 days ago

The Australian media spin was not the right approach. The story should have been about the decision itself and if it is the right thing for Kyle’s body given the longer term goal of Paris 2024. Cody is thrilled with his spot on the Comm Games team and is not really the storyline.

Kyle is prone to injury and the original reason for his decision not to go was to give his body a break and time to get back to full strength post surgery. Maybe he is there already – only Kyle and his team know that answer, but interesting that Ariarne seems to have stayed laser focused on the reason for her decision despite also EARNING multiple berths to worlds at trials. I just hope FOMO is not the reason for Kyle’s reversal in decision.

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