Although while competing in Rio at the 2016 Olympic Games the nation of Australia beat its in-pool performance from 2012 London, there were still individual disappointments that led to an overall vibe of underperformance when it came to the Aussies’ medal count. The nation was carrying three double World Champions into Rio, but among them, just one individual medal was claimed, a silver by backstroker Mitch Larkin.
Emily Seebohm won both the women’s 100m and 200m backstroke events in Kazan at the 2015 World Championships and followed her performances up with a remarkable run of sub-59-second 100m back outings throughout the 2015-16 World Cup Series. However, in Rio, Seebohm would come away empty-handed individually, scoring a 7th place finish in the 100m event while failing to make the final in the 200m race.
“If I’m being honest, I think the pressure did get to me,” 24-year-old Seebohm tells ESPN in her final exclusive post-Olympic column. “I gave it my all and I guess I can’t be too disappointed with myself, but it was tough not achieving my goals.”
After having earned 100m backstroke silver behind Missy Franklin at the 2012 Olympics, Seebohm was more determined than ever to prove her talent on the world’s biggest stage come 2016. However, Seebohm’s racing strategy didn’t quite play out how the swimmer envisioned once in the water battling it out against would-be winner Katinka Hosszu of Hungary.
“In the 100m backstroke final, I wanted it so badly and I put so much pressure on myself to take home gold. I just tried too hard. I overdid the race, whereas when I swim at my best, I’m confident and in control.”
She describes how, “Tactically, I put in too much effort too soon. When I race at my best, I go out easier and come home stronger so tactically, it wasn’t what I would have liked. I thought I had to do more than what I probably needed to do at the time. In lane 1, I didn’t know where the pack was. It was so hard and I wanted it so badly, and I sacrificed not sticking to my race plan because I wanted it so much.”
Now more than two months removed from the experience, the Brisbane Grammar swimmer is weighing her future options, both in the pool and out. The avid horse rider says, “I’ve got plenty on to keep me busy and focused in the short-term, but I’m not 100 percent sure that I’ll get to the Tokyo Games in 2020. I’m committed for the next two years but from there I’ll see how I feel and how my body is feeling.”
“I’m not sure I’d be able to commit for another four just yet,” Seebohm says.