The Roar
The Roar


Thorpedo fuming as Aussie young gun fights back tears after bizarre timing error ROBS him of world record and gold medal

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16th December, 2022

A shattered Isaac Cooper fought back tears after he was cruelly denied a backstroke world short course swimming gold medal in bizarre circumstances after the final had to be re-run.

Cooper was first home in the 50m final in Melbourne on Friday night but less than half the field completed the race after an alarm sounded due to a “technical error”.

An hour later the race was re-run with American Ryan Murphy touching ahead of the 18-year-old Queenslander. “Life keeps on throwing shit at me and I keep on pushing through,” was how Cooper summed up the drama.

Murphy’s winning time was 22.64, slower than Cooper’s initial time of 22.49 seconds which was a junior world record and a personal best. Cooper clocked 22.73 in his second effort to pick up the silver medal.

“They’ve got to notify the athletes. This is rubbish,” swimming legend Ian Thorpe said on Channel Nine commentary before the re-swim. “There should have been a drop [of a rope to stop athletes swimming]. There’s a huge disadvantage to those that have continued.”

He added after the second race: “I thought it was a horrible thing that happened. Unfortunately in sport, it isn’t who deserves it the most. Sport often is not fair. We try and make it as fair as possible for everyone whether that’s our rules around doping or our rules around a situation like this. That’s what we try and do.”

Cooper was banished from the Commonwealth Games team for misusing prescription medication with mental health challenges contributing to the decision to send him home.

Consoled by both Murphy and his family in the stands after the medal ceremony, Cooper said it felt like another blow after his Games disappointment.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 16: Silver medallist Isaac Cooper of Australia shows his emotion during the medal ceremony for the Mens 50m Backstroke Final on day four of the 2022 FINA World Short Course Swimming Championships at Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on December 16, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Isaac Cooper shows his emotion during the medal ceremony. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

“Life keeps on throwing shit at me and I keep on pushing through,” Cooper told reporters.

“I’ve been trying my best – I’ve gone through so many low points and all I want to do is to be able to stand on top and every time I do I get knocked back again. If I can come back from this I know I will be a better person, a better athlete.”

The veteran Murphy, who also won the 100m backstroke, deemed Cooper the true champion.

“I was pretty disappointed the way that it shook out,” Murphy told reporters.

“I really feel for Isaac – he’s 18 and going for your first individual world title and that’s huge and an incredible accomplishment.

“I’m going to talk to him and let him know that in my mind he won that race.”


Cooper took some comfort from his rival’s words and the knowledge that he had swum the fastest time.

In the first race only three swimmers including Cooper continued with no rope available at the 15m mark to stop the swimmers.

Officials conferred before deciding to reschedule the race with a full field of eight swimmers after they ruled there was no false start.

Dolphins coach Rohan Taylor said there was unanimous agreement from competing countries to re-swim the final.

“It’s the only fair way – there was a malfunction of the starting system so there was no other option,” Taylor said.

“There were people who didn’t swim the race. Obviously Isaac might not be happy with that (winning silver) and I understand that and I totally respect that but it’s about what you take away from these thing and learn.”