Libby Trickett (Lenton) will be inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame tonight at the 32nd Gala Awards dinner tonight in Melbourne. Trickett will join her Olympic gold medal winning relay teammates Leisel Jones, Jessicah Schipper, Petria Thomas and Jodie Henry in the Hall.
She will be inducted into the Hall with four other athletes that include:
- Emma Carney (Triathlon)
- Kristy Ellis (Surf Life Saving)
- Sharelle McMahon (Sailing)
- Harry Wells (Rugby League)
Trickett was a mainstay on the Australia National Team for close to a decade. She qualified for her first Australian senior team in 2002, but truly broke onto the international scene in 2003. At Australian Championships she became the first Australian woman to break the 25-second barrier in the 50 freestyle and went on to win bronze in both the 50 freestyle and 4 x 100 freestyle at the World Championships in Barcelona.
The next year Trickett set a world record in the 100 freestyle en route to qualifying for her first Olympic Games posting a time of 53.66 in the semi-finals of the Australian Olympic Trials, “In terms of the most fun I ever had racing was the semi-final of the 100m freestyle at the Australian titles in 2004 where I broke my first world record that was a big thrill for me and probably the most fun,” said Trickett.
At her first Olympic Games Trickett walked away with a gold in the 4 x 100 freestyle, “My first race in my first Olympics and I came away with the world record and an Olympic gold medal so it doesn’t get much better than that in terms of starting an Olympic campaign,” Trickett recalls.
In that race she teamed up with Alice Mills, Thomas and Henry to break the world record and win Australia’s first gold in the event in 48 years.
“I was blown away to be up there with the likes of Dawn Fraser and the other wonderful icons of our sport.”
Later in the competition she went on to win a bronze in the 50 freestyle.
Although she did win two medals at her first Games she also suffered extreme disappointment. She came into Athens as the world record holder and favourite in the 100 freestyle, but did not make the final in the event. Looking back at her experience in 2004 Trickett can relate to what Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell went through in Rio, “What both Cate and Bronte experienced this year – I’ve been there and walked in their shoes – literally walked that road and it’s incredibly challenging and difficult and frustrating and upsetting and disappointing and all of those words but they’re the moments that define you as an athlete and define you as a person and ultimately you learn the most from those moments,” Trickett said.
“Those are things that make you grow, they force to you evolve and think differently and challenge the way that you do things – that’s the lesson that I learnt during my swimming career that I try to apply in life everyday now.”
“Hopefully it provides the platform to go on to to bigger and better things in the future,” Trickett says.
She recovered from that disappointment in spectacular fashion winning her first Olympic gold medal at the 2008 in he women’s 100 butterfly. Despite winning individual gold in the 100 butterfly she was still not able to grab the elusive 100 freestyle crown finishing second to Britten Steffen by four one-hundredths of a second, “I did finish second in Beijing in the freestyle, so not everything went to plan.”
She collected her second Olympic relay gold teaming up with Emily Seebohm, Jones and Schipper to win gold in the 4 x 100 medley relay in world record time and added a bronze as part of the Australian 4 x 100 freestyle relay.
She won her final Olympic medal in 2012 as part of the 4 x 100 freestyle relay swimming the event in the prelims.
Above and beyond her Olympic medal haul from 2005 to 2007 she won a total of 13 gold medals at the 2005 World Championships in Montreal, the 2006 Commonwealth Games and 2007 World Championships, both in Melbourne. She also broke the world record in the 100 freestyle twice and the 50 freestyle once between 2005 and 2008.
When looking back at her career accomplishments Trickett is most proud of her Olympic success, “It’s really hard to go past Olympic gold medals – I think as swimmers that’s the pinnacle of our sport and is proved at every single Olympic year they are not that easy to come by so to do that both within relays and also as an individual is something I’m incredibly proud of.”
“Getting the opportunity to break some barriers in terms of records and times was nice. I had that opportunity a couple of times in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Everyone would prefer an Olympic gold medal or world championship gold medal as they’re the things that stand the test of time but certainly the opportunity to have a bit of fun and know you were the fastest in the world – ever – is fun.”
Even with so much success at the world’s biggest events one of her most memorable moments in the water came when she up against Michael Phelps in a mixed relay at the 2007 Duel in the Pool posting an unofficial world record time of 52.99, “Racing Michael Phelps in 2007 and going unofficially under 53 seconds that was also really fun. I did it again, officially, but to be the first women to break 53 seconds was awesome and to do it against Michael Phelps was a real pleasure.”
“I was privileged to have swum for as long as I did and record the achievements that I was able to do throughout my swimming career and that’s what you work towards throughout your career but you don’t think about the other possibilities of other rewards and recognition. So I was blown away to be up there with the likes of Dawn Fraser and the other wonderful icons of our sport.”