Swimming: Larkin aims to attain 2020 vision

Double world champion Mitch Larkin of Australia has won four races in three World Cup legs and will be looking to continue that form in Singapore this week.
Double world champion Mitch Larkin of Australia has won four races in three World Cup legs and will be looking to continue that form in Singapore this week.PHOTO: REUTERS

Gold in Tokyo would be a fitting result, but winning the respect of his peers is crucial

Some athletes are haunted by their defeats and disappointments. Mitch Larkin is not one of them.

The Australian swimmer entered the recent Olympic Games as the 100m and 200m backstroke world champion. However, he was forced to settle for a silver in the 200m and only fourth in the 100m in Rio.

Some might see those results as a failure but Larkin, 23, does not.

And his girlfriend, team-mate and fellow double world champion Emily Seebohm had a part to play in shaping that perspective.

He said in a phone interview yesterday: "(Emily) told me in Rio... 'Make sure you're not disappointed with silver.' She truly appreciated her silver in the 2012 London Olympics.

NOT HAUNTED BY DEFEAT

Medals don't make a person, it's far more important to have respect among athletes.

MITCH LARKIN, on his career priorities.

"Looking back, I'm proud of my swim. Having such a successful past in the pool, a lot of the public assume that a medal is easy to achieve. But winning an Olympic medal is an amazing achievement."

After all, that disappointment of missing out on a gold was shared by his Australian team-mates, Seebohm and Bronte Campbell, both of whom also failed to back up their world championship titles with Olympic golds.

Only the women's 4x100m freestyle relay quartet achieved that feat.

Still, with victories by Mack Horton (men's 400m free) and Kyle Chalmers (men's 100m free), the Australians' tally of three gold medals was an improvement from the London Games in 2012, when they won just a solitary gold - their worst Olympic performance in the pool in two decades.

Worse, members of the 2012 team were also chided for disciplinary issues. So the team were looking for more than just medals in Rio.

Larkin said: "We felt some pressure to just make sure we did not repeat (what happened in) London. This year it felt that the team had a great sense of unity and respect, which was fantastic."

Less than a month after the Olympics, he was back to racing action, winning four races in three World Cup legs.

He is looking to continue that hot streak in Singapore on Friday and Saturday at the Fina/airweave Swimming World Cup, the seventh stop in the nine-leg series.

He said: "The World Cup (helps me) to get back my groove on racing. When you break it down into smaller segments and meets, it's easy and you'll find that the next four years fly by.

"At this point of my career, I want to fine-tune my engine. I'm looking to implement more speed and sprint sessions throughout the whole year."

After splitting with his coach of eight years, Michael Bohl, last month, Larkin is on the hunt for a new coach.

He is working with Tracey Menzies, the former coach of the legendary Ian Thorpe, but said that no appointments will be confirmed till January.

While Larkin aims for another shot at gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, he feels that he should not be remembered just for his victories.

He said: "Even if I don't come away with an Olympic (gold) medal, I want to be remembered as a well-respected member of the team. Medals don't make a person, it's far more important to have respect among athletes."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Larkin aims to attain 2020 vision'. Print Edition | Subscribe