Australian legend Emma McKeon has struck more gold, named Swimming World’s female Swimmer of the Year after her historic medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics.
It’s the first time since Stephanie Rice saluted in 2008 that an Australian has taken out the top female honour.
McKeon bagged a total of seven medals in Tokyo to equal the biggest-ever haul for a female Olympian.
The 27-year-old snared an Australian-record four gold medals at the delayed 2020 Olympics – held this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic – including individual gold in both the 100m and 50m freestyle.
McKeon had the fastest split in the 4x100m freestyle relay, leading Australia to gold and a world record, and produced a strong butterfly split in Australia’s successful 4x100m medley relay.
The Wollongong product’s career tally of 11 Olympic medals is a new Australian benchmark, surpassing the previous record of nine medals, which was shared by fellow swimming greats Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones.
McKeon also claimed one gold medal at Rio 2016 and has now tied Thorpe’s Australian record of five career Olympic gold medals.
But she is not satisfied yet.
McKeon is ready to reset for Paris in 2024, having declared her record-breaking success in Tokyo will spur her over the next three years.
“Now that I’ve won at the Olympics, I think that’s actually going to give me more motivation because I want to do the same thing,” McKeon told AAP this month.
“Three years doesn’t sound like long, especially when you compare it to the last (five-year) preparation, but it is still a long time.”
Since the Swimming World award’s inception in 1965, only five Australians have been crowned female Swimmer of the Year.
Shane Gould was the first in 1971 and retained her title the following year, before Samantha Riley (1994), Jones (2005 and 2006), Rice (2008) and McKeon (2021) all claimed the top honour.
Fellow Australian Dean Boxall was named Coach of the Year after guiding Ariarne Titmus to Olympic gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle, breaking American great Katie Ledecky’s grip on the events.
The eccentric 42-year-old’s wild celebration of the 400m triumph provided one of the most iconic moments of the Tokyo Games.