2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
Just two days away from the start of swimming action at these 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games and we have a huge individual event withdrawal on the women’s side.
Australia’s Head Coach Rohan Taylor confirmed to SwimSwam today that top-seeded Kaylee McKeown of Australia has decided to drop the 200m IM event. The 20-year-old will instead focus on the 100m and 200m backstroke races, as well as the medley relay here in Tokyo.
McKeown was entering these Games as the #1 swimmer in the world this season in the 200m IM event with a lifetime best of 2:08.19. That performance was rendered at the Australian Olympic Trials last month in South Australia and her time was so big it set an All Comers Record as a result (the equivalent to a U.S. Open Record). Her PB also checked her in as the 8th fastest performer in history in the event.
USC Spartan McKeown, trained by coach Chris Mooney, was set to be the second seed behind Hungarian world record holder Katinka Hosszu in the 200m IM, with Hosszu owning the fastest time of the Olympic qualification period of 2:07.02 from two years ago.
In the backstroke events, McKeown owns the world record in the 100m back in 57.45 from just this year and also owns the top seed in the 200m back in 2:04.28.
McKeown was among the Australian athletes whose massive schedule we highlighted just a few days ago, with the Aussie set to attack a robust lineup of back-to-back racing in Tokyo. Her original lineup of races is included below, with her 200 IM now crossed off to show the breathing room it allows her.
Instead of doubling up on the 100m back semi-final and 200m IM heats on Monday, McKeown will have the 100m back all on its own, which is a frightening prospect as her first event. Additionally, she’ll now have Wednesday entirely off before taking on the 200m back. A day of rest prior to that race also puts the world record potentially on notice for this ace.
- Saturday, July 24th: OFF
- Sunday, July 25th:
- 19:02 Tokyo/20:02 AEST – 100m back heats
- Monday, July 26th:
- 11:53 Tokyo/12:53 AEST – 100m back semi-final
19:56 Tokyo/20:56 AEST – 200m IM heats
- Tuesday, July 27th:
- 10:51 Tokyo/11:51 AEST – 100m back final
11:58 Toyo/12:58 AEST – 200m IM semi-final
- Wednesday, July 28th:
11:45 Tokyo/12:45 AEST – 200m IM final
- Thursday, July 29th:
- 20:08 Tokyo/21:08 AEST – 200m back heats
- Friday, July 30th:
- 11:35 Tokyo/12:35 AEST – 200m back semi-final
- Saturday, July 31st:
- 10:37 Tokyo/11:37 AEST – 200m back final
- 11:43 Tokyo/12:43 AEST – mixed medley relay final
- Sunday, August 1st:
- 11:15 Tokyo/12:15 AEST – women’s medley relay final
Along with McKeown’s IM withdrawal, however, comes the fact that now the nation of Australia will have zero representation in the IM events on the women’s side at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Stephanie Rice was the megastar in these events for the nation at the 2008 Games, taking double gold in the 200m and 400m IM. She finaled in both events 4 years later but it was teammate Alicia Coutts who took home a medal with the silver in the 200m IM.
Flash forward to Rio and Coutts missed out on a repeat podium, placing 5th while no other IM swimmer advanced in either distance.
Here in Tokyo, McKeown’s withdrawal opens the door for Hosszu to make a surge, although she’ll still have the likes of Yui Ohashi of host nation Japan, Canada’s Sydney Pickrem and Great Britain’s Abbie Wood among the field of viable medal contenders.
McKeown is not the only Australian to have reduced her schedule for the Games, although she is the first to do so this close to them. Post- Olympic Trials, reigning 100m freestyle gold medalist Kyle Chalmers dropped the individual 200m free from his schedule, as did multi-event threat Emma McKeon.
McKeown also had previously opted out of contesting the 400m IM at these Games despite her representing the top performer in the world in the event this season.