Why Australia’s First Gold at Tokyo Olympics is Not Just a Stroke of Luck

Tokyo Olympics
Photo Credit: beIN SPORTS Asia/YouTube

Team Australia has won its first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics after swimmers and Kenmore State High School alumnae Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell, along with teammates Meg Harris and Emma McKeon, set a new world record for the 4×100-m freestyle relay. Like all worthy endeavours, this historic Olympic win against a sea of world-class swimmers is definitely much more than just a stroke of luck.



Cate, Bronte, Meg and Emma clocked the fastest time at 3 minutes, 29.78 seconds, beating Canada (3:32.78) and USA (3:32:81), as well Team Australia’s 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games record. 


In an impressive display of teamwork, Australia’s relay team showed the world how it’s done.

Bronte opened for Team Australia and inched seconds behind Sweden. She was followed by Meg, the Olympic first-timer who secured the girls’ lead early on. Emma was third in the handover with Cate closing the relay with the determination (and experience!) to seal the win.


Highlights

  • Sisters Cate and Bronte Campbell won Team Australia’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics 4×100-m freestyle relay with fellow swimmers Meg Harris and Emma McKeon.
  • The sisters both went to Kenmore State High School and have been representing Team Australia since 2008 (Cate) and 2012 (Bronte).
  • Cate advocates for early detection and prevention of melanoma cancer, after her diagnosis in 2018.
    Both sisters want to be part of the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane. 

This isn’t the first Olympic competition for the Kenmore State High alums. Thirteen years ago, Cate swam for Team Australia at the 2008 Beijing Games at 16 years old and went home with two bronze medals. She has since competed at four Olympics and was also in Tokyo for the 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships.

Bronte joined her sister at the 2012 London Olympics and made history with Cate as the first Australian sisters to compete in the same swimming event: Women’s 50-m Freestyle. 

Early Life & Challenges

The Campbell sisters were born in Malawi to South African parents, Eric and Jenny. Cate is the oldest of five siblings whilst Bronte is the second child. Their mother was a synchronised swimmer who taught her girls to swim.

The family moved to Australia in 2001, where Cate and Bronte joined the Indooroopilly Swimming Club. While the Campbells have remained in Kenmore Hills, Bronte currently resides in Sydney.

In 2018, Cate was diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma following a routine skin check-up. Her dermatologist recommended surgery for a mole in her arm and she was fortunate to get an all-clear after going through the procedure. 

Since her diagnosis and surgery, the Kenmore local has been advocating for early detection and prevention of stage 1 melanoma before serious health consequences develop. 

Future Plans

Cate, now 29, plans to compete in the 2024 Paris Games or perhaps take a spot at the International Swimming League.



However, Bronte, 27, told AP News that she might retire after Tokyo Olympics due to a five-year struggle with a body injury. To manage her condition, Bronte does yoga, Pilates, acupuncture, float tanks, and frequent consultations with her doctor. Her rehabilitation and prevention routines take as much time as her swim training. 

Both sisters expressed that they would like to help in the organisation of the 2032 Olympics in Brisbane, even if they just have to show the audience their seats at the stadium.