Two-time Australian Olympic champion Cate Campbell is thinking about extending her career a few extra years in order to compete at the Paris Games in 2024.
Campbell, 27, has changed her tune on retirement plans a few different times over the last four years. Initially planning to call it a career after the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, the four-time World Champion then said she would race up until Tokyo after a disappointing performance at the 2016 Rio Games. Most recently, Campbell said she would aim for Paris 2024 if the Tokyo Games were cancelled.
Now, with the Games postponed to 2021, not cancelled, she’s strongly considering attempting to race at each of the next two Olympics to bring her career total to five.
“I always said I wouldn’t discount another Olympics but I was thinking Tokyo would be my last because four years is a long time between drinks,” Campbell told the Brisbane Times. “Now it will be only three years (until Paris). Do you keep going and try and push for (2024)?
“I am not sure. I think it really depends mentally and physically if I feel I am capable of going around again.”
If Campbell does end up competing at five Olympics, having debuted in Beijing in 2008, she would become the first Australian swimmer to do so. Aussie breaststroke legend Leisel Jones has competed in four (2000-2012).
The International Swimming League (ISL) is another thing that will potentially keep Campbell in the pool longer than she had initially expected.
“Part of me thinks it is a really exciting time in the world of swimming with the ISL starting to pick up, and creating a whole new series of competitions, which will hopefully have a couple of events down in Australia,” she said. “For me, that is also really exciting. Swimming can be a monotonous sport and I have been doing it a long time but now there are so many options available, in lots of different formats around the world.
“I feel like I don’t want to miss out.”
Two-time Australian Olympic 1500 freestyle champion Kieran Perkins believes that after what Campbell managed to do in 2018, dominating the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships after taking 2017 off of international competition, she has the ability to swim until 2024 if she chooses.
“For older athletes at the end of their careers it could go either way,” Perkins said of the Tokyo postponement. “For myself, if it happened before my last Olympics at Sydney, part of me would have said I would retire because the thought of going for another year was just too much to bear.
“On the flipside the break might help give you perspective, find the energy to go hard one last time. And we saw Cate refreshed and firing the last time she had an extended break — this might be the perfect thing for her.”
Campbell is a five-time Olympic medalist, having won gold in the women’s 4×100 free relay in both 2012 and 2016. Her lone individual Olympic medal came in Beijing, where she claimed bronze in the 50 free just a couple of months after her 16th birthday. She also owns 12 LC World Championship medals, nine Pan Pac gold medals, and eight Commonwealth Games medals.