She was the golden girl who captured the hearts of Australians in Tokyo, but behind the smile, Kaylee McKeown was battling the pain of an injury that could have ruined her Olympic campaign.
Three-time Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown has revealed she swam in pain to achieve her exploits in Tokyo, having torn shoulder cartilage on the eve of the Games.
McKeown, who won the 100m and 200m backstroke and was a member of the gold medal medley relay team in Tokyo, tore the labrum in his shoulder during a gym session at the camp Australian swim team pre-start in Cairns just before the Olympics.
But she “just took the pain” and left Tokyo with four medals – including three gold – in an Olympic start that now seems miraculous.
“I tore the labrum from my left shoulder… we came to the conclusion that I did it here in Cairns and just endured the pain,” McKeown said after returning to the city of the far north Queensland for a Speedo swim clinic with locals. juniors.
“Honestly, it didn’t affect my Olympics at all, I had a lot of pain especially the last two days before the 200 backstroke and the relay, but there was nothing I could do to improve it, so there you have it. No need to complain about it.
She is still grappling with the injury and a 2022 schedule that she still hopes to include both the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games could be affected, McKeown is set to miss the Queensland State Championships in December as it is relegated to kicks until the end of the year.
After seeing Australian swim team doctor Luke Eggleston, McKeown rejected a surgical option to repair the damage.
“Surgery was an option that was put on the table, but I had the best of the best who told me it wasn’t the best option because it wouldn’t be the best thing with my stroke.” McKeown said.
“It is therefore a matter of restoring his strength and preparing him to leave.”
Instead, rest and a gradual rebuilding of strength will be the course of action McKeown takes before resuming full training ahead of trials for the World Championships and Commonwealth Games next year.
This will happen on the Sunshine Coast, where McKeown has decided to stay, despite his former coach Chris Mooney moving to Bond University on the Gold Coast.
The 20-year-old spent a few sessions with Mooney and also tried out with Michael Bohl on the Gold Coast and Dean Boxall in Brisbane before deciding to stay at the University of the Sunshine Coast where Mick Palfrey will succeed Mooney.
“I decided to stay on the Sunshine Coast, I’m suffering from a shoulder injury right now so the best team for me are the people who know my body and that was a big part of my decision. to stay there with Mick Palfrey, ”McKeown said.
“Mooney and I left things on very good terms obviously, he took me to the highest level just about any sport can reach, so there will never be bad blood there and he said he was going to welcome me with open arms every time, so that’s great on his behalf too.
Palfrey arrives from Western Australia with Olympians Brianna Throssel and Tamsin Cook to face the University of Sunshine Coast squad, ensuring an elite training atmosphere will remain despite Mooney’s departure.
“I’m really looking forward to having a group that wants the same thing – to pursue that Olympic dream and to be on the international stage,” McKeown said.
But she left the door open to a possible reunification with her former coach or another move in the future if it was better for her swimming.
“We’ve had some great conversations and I love Mick’s job and the way he’s handling the sessions, so I’m really confident he’ll take me where I want to go,” she said.
“Whether it’s a two-year thing, a three-year thing or beyond, I’m not sure.”