'Dad's watching over her': What pushed Kaylee McKeown to win gold

‘Dad’s watching over her’: What pushed Kaylee McKeown to win gold

Kaylee McKeown

Kaylee McKeown couldn’t contain her excitement after winning gold in the 100m backstroke final at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday morning.

“F–k yeah!” she said as she spoke to the media after winning the race. “Oh S–t! I mean, woo!”

The 20-year-old had just become a first time Olympic champion, winning the final and smashing an Olympic record in the process. Her joy was palpable.

McKeown swam with a time of 57.47 seconds, just 0.02 seconds behind her own world record.

Speaking to Channel 7 after the race, McKeown said becoming an Olympic gold medallist is a dream come true, and paid tribute to her father, who died of brain cancer 11 months ago at age 53.

“It’s definitely something that people dream of, it’s something I have dreamed of too,” McKeown said. “To make it a reality is…yeah, really amazing.”

“I’m just thankful I have a good support team. A few people before the race came up and said to just have all the faith in the world that you have got this.”

Asked what she’d like to say to her dad, the 20-year-old from the Sunshine Coast said: “I hope you’re proud, and I keep doing you proud.”

McKeown, competing at her first Olympics, became the second Australian swimmer to win gold in Tokyo, joining Ariane Titmus in the record books.

After breaking the 100m backstroke world record last month at the Olympic trials, McKeown said at the time that her family’s heartbreak had driven her to get the most out of her swimming.

“Well, I guess with COVID and the passing of my dad in August last year, it’s been a huge, huge build-up to these trials and you know I have turned it into a bit of a hunger and motivation behind me,” she said at the time.

“I use it every day that I wake up, I know that it’s a privilege to be on this Earth and walk and talk.”

After the Olympic win, McKeown’s mother Sharon said her father would be proud.

“Her dad would be so proud. It hasn’t sunk in. So happy and excited. Can’t wait to give her a cuddle,” she said.

“It’s been pretty tough. You know, COVID’s probably been a bit of a blessing and Kaylee’s been able to focus and fly under the radar. She’s done a great job.”

“She always knows that dad’s watching over her.”

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