Australia’s Cate Campbell says she felt betrayed by swimming in the wake of her flop at last year’s Rio Olympics where she was tipped to win gold in the 50 and 100 metres freestyle events but failed to even get on the podium.
The former 100 freestyle world champion later remarked that it was “possibly the greatest choke in Olympic history” and broke down in tears in a televised interview.
Taking a long lay-off after Rio, Campbell has elected to skip the ongoing world championships in Budapest where Swede Sarah Sjostrom smashed the Australian’s 100 freestyle world record with a 51.71 second lead-off swim during the 4×100 relay on Sunday.
Despite winning relay gold and silver in Rio, Campbell said she felt “let down” by a sport she had worked so hard to dominate. “It hurt me deeply in the way that if you are in a relationship with someone. Swimming let me down,” she said in comments published by The Australian newspaper.
“It’s strange, because it was 100 percent me (at fault) and I was in control, but I felt like I had given so much of myself to this thing and it had just really let me down and I was feeling really hurt by it.”
Campbell added that she was too scared to return to the pool until she had a casual swim at her Brisbane training pool six weeks after the Games.
“I hadn’t been in the water at all, I had no desire to,” the 25-year-old said. “I was bitter and I was angry and I was frustrated and I was scared and I knew I wanted to make changes in my life but I didn’t know how drastic the changes needed to be and I probably needed that first swim to put everything back in perspective and put all of those demons to rest.”