Australia’s comeback kid, Geoff Huegill, is leading the way in the pool, and he is just one of many who have defied the odds for our proud nation.
Skippy is one of the great stories, along with Kylie Palmer, who have come from the brink to be part of the 2010 Commonwealth Games swim team.
After weighing 138 kilograms, Huegill was in no shape to return to the pool for Australia and there would have been many doubters. Pizza and beer was in the weekly diet in his five years away from competition.
For an Olympic Medalist at 21 and world champion, Geoff has surprised not only himself but his country. He still has the power to get past the best, including South African Roland Schoeman and Kenyan Jason Dunford, and this was shown in his silver medal in the 50 metre butterfly final. Dunford hammered home with the win, but our boy was only .02 behind, which is nothing in swimming terms.
Now he’s ranked No.3 in the world and has sights set on the 2012 London Olympic Games. From flab to looking the part, the transition is astounding.
Kylie Palmer too has fought back to shake off and recover from major shoulder surgery to compete in the Delhi games. She won Australia’s first gold medal in Delhi from rock bottom. Having to learn to swim again, as she said, she hit the wall again and again until she was back to her best.
After winning gold in Beijing with Stephanie Rice, Bronte Barratt and Linda MacKenzie in the 4×200 metre freestyle relay, it is sweet icing on the cake for Palmer. In her 200 metre freestyle final victory, a tough field was beaten including 400m and 800m champion Rebecca Adlington. No doubt the memory will be long lasting.
As another comeback kid, Palmer did Australia proud.
In the gold rush, it is the Australian never say die attitude which has again rose to the occasion. Huegill and Palmer fought back from adversity and went one better than they would have imagined. Boxing on, both worked hard and got back to their best and achieved the results.
While the stories of Skippy and Kyle make the news, another comeback kid could have the front page story in time, with Libby Trickett planning to compete for Australia in London 2012.
And the queen of the pool could have around her neck her fourth Olympic Gold.
John Bertrand, the President of Swimming Australia, suggested on the ABC radio show The Ticket that any critical assessment of Australia’s performance at the 2017 World Swimming Championships should be downplayed on the basis that the 2020 Olympic Games is the ultimate aim. I disagree.
On paper, Bronte Campbell admits it is not a good look. The Australian’s reign as 100m freestyle champion is officially over after she finished second last in the final on day six of the world swimming championships at Budapest.