In an interview with The Australian published this week, sprint star Cate Campbell says she thought she had been disqualified for a false start in the 2016 Olympic 100 free final, leading to her disappointing 6th-place showing.
Campbell was the world record-holder and heavy gold medal favorite going into that event in Rio, and her 6th-place finish was one of the low points of a relatively disappointing Olympics for Australia.
At the time, Campbell herself called the race “possibly the greatest choke in Olympic history.” But almost four years later, Campbell gave The Australian some more details about what threw off her Olympic race. Notably, Campbell says she believed she moved on the block and would be disqualified at the end of the race.
“I moved,” Campbell said. “But I might have been still enough to move again when the starting signal went.
“I was about 90 percent sure that I would be disqualified,” she continued. “Maybe it would have been a preferable option.”
The sprinter, then 24 years old, said the start threw off her race plan, and in a swim that takes less than a minute from start to finish, there wasn’t enough time for her to regroup.
“I won’t say exactly what I said [to herself in the water] because you won’t be able to print it,” Campbell told The Australian. “And then any race plan you had has been taken over by this overarching thought and 100 meters is not enough time to really reformulate and go again.
“I always say that it was probably the first 25 meters, 35 meters of that swim that derailed the whole event. I just dumped way too much energy, and that was part of it.”