Enough talk about London flop, says Cate Campbell

MELBOURNE • Australian swimming has moved on from the debacle in the London pool four years ago and it is "disrespectful" to keep reminding the Olympic team about it in the lead-up to Rio de Janeiro, 100m freestyle world record-holder Cate Campbell said.

Swimming superpower Australia's proud Olympic record was tarnished at London, where they won just a solitary relay title and slumped to their worst medal haul in 20 years.

A post-Games review found a "toxic culture" had developed in the team, along with evidence of drunkenness, prescription drug abuse and mismanagement by senior staff.

But Australia head into the Aug 5-21 Games with renewed confidence after bringing new management to Rio and some outstanding results at recent events.

London, however, remains a raw nerve for swimmers like Campbell who were on the 2012 team that were lashed by local media as a waste of taxpayers' money.

"We are always asked what has changed since London," Campbell told Australian media at a training camp in Auburn, Alabama.

"Now we have a new head coach, we have a new CEO, we have a new president - all in 2013.

"In 2014 we had the most successful Commonwealth Games swim team ever.

"In 2015 we topped the medal tally for Olympic events (at the world championships).

"We have moved from a rules-based regime to a values-based regime.

"I think you cannot compare where we are now to where we were in 2012 and I think it's unfair and disrespectful to the athletes on this team to be constantly bringing up something that happened in 2012 and most of them were not a part of it."

Campbell, who won a pair of bronzes at the 2008 Beijing Games, was a member of the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team that took Australia's only gold in the London pool. But she fell ill before her individual events.

"I had a great 2012 and I can look back on that with pride and I think that it's not just the athletes that have changed, it's the organisation," said Campbell.

"We have opened channels of communication, and it has been a great and liberating process to be a part of and I think we can very well and truly put this matter to rest."

The 24-year-old, who will compete against her world champion sister Bronte, 22, at Rio, is favourite to win the 100m freestyle. She is also a medal contender in the 50m and 4x100m relay.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2016, with the headline 'Enough talk about London flop, says Cate Campbell'. Print Edition | Subscribe