Cate Campbell lifts the lid on plans for 2024 Paris Olympics

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Cate Campbell says she will attempt to make the Australian team for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Australian swimmer Cate Campbell says she plans to make a run at competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics, but will begin training next year. (Photo by Xu Chang/Xinhua via Getty Images)

As Australian Olympic medallist Cate Campbell sat in her doctor's office weeks before the Tokyo Games, the prospect of a fifth Olympics in Paris was a pipe dream.

Indeed, her going to her fourth Olympics seemed to be a dicey prospect.

TROUBLING: Damning photo of Greg Norman emerges amid LIV golf controversy

WOW: Tennis fans in frenzy over Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas news

She'd successfully made it through trials and onto the team, but in the months leading up to it she'd felt like a shadow of herself.

Heading into the trials she'd felt 'paralysed by a sense of impending doom'.

In July of 2020 she'd been diagnosed with depression, but as her symptoms worsened Campbell began to feel estranged from the sport she loved so much.

Physically pushing herself to the limit in the months before trials, her performance in the water didn't waver but her passion for the next race was gone, replaced by terror.

That passion being replaced with fear was what ultimately spurred Campbell to seek more help, realising that she 'would rather be doing anything else', or was hoping for an injury that might rule her out of the Games.

"I'm used to feeling nervous and I'm used to feeling pressure, but this feeling of existential dread is not normal, and it's not something I should be feeling and I need help with that, because it's an awful way to be feeling," Campbell told Yahoo Sport Australia.

"Especially when I want to be able to continue, I didn't not want to go to the Olympics, I didn't want to stop swimming, but it was like my body was giving me different messages to my brain."

Cate Campbell says she was filled with dread after successfully making the team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which prompted her to seek help from her doctor. (Photo by Delly Carr/Getty Images)
Cate Campbell says she was filled with dread after successfully making the team for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which prompted her to seek help from her doctor. (Photo by Delly Carr/Getty Images)

Campbell made the decision to begin taking medication for anxiety and depression in those weeks between the trials and travelling to Tokyo - and found herself in a much better place than she had been in the months prior.

She went on to win two gold medals in the 4x100 medley and 4x100 freestyle relays, as well as bronze in the 100 freestyle.

Despite the impressive performance, at the time Campbell was unsure if she was willing to continue at the elite level.

Cate Campbell's bold plan for 2024 Paris Olympics

She's skipping the Commonwealth Games this year in favour of a six-month adventure though Europe, as well as linking up with Lifeline to promote the Push Up Challenge to use her own experience in 2021 to encourage others who might relate to reach out to a doctor.

As for the the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Campbell says she's taking an unconventional approach to training - including not at all for the remainder of her trip.

The 30-year-old said she was in a place where win or lose, a last tilt at the Olympics would allow her to leave the sport with no regrets.

After opting to take time off instead of compete at the Commonwealth Cames, Cate Campbell says says is extremely motivated to compete at the Paris Olympics. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)
After opting to take time off instead of compete at the Commonwealth Cames, Cate Campbell says says is extremely motivated to compete at the Paris Olympics. (Photo by Sam Tabone/WireImage)

"I decided use this time because there's probably no other time to do it," she said.

"People ask if it's a big risk to take some time off and come back for Paris, because I still want to do that - my answer is that I never want to leave the sport with regrets.

"Success demands sacrifice, huge amounts of sacrifice, and I never want to resent the things that I've given up in pursuit of my sport.

"So I'm doing all the things I've wished I could do but haven't been able to because of my sport - investing time in my relationship and relationships.

"Because I'm doing that I'm feeling more motivated for Paris and not less."

Campbell has sworn off training for the duration of her holiday, anticipating "putting the blinkers on" for a hard charging two years of training in readiness for Paris.

Having said that, Campbell is well aware that few Australian swimmers have made it through Olympics trials without dedicating the maximum amount of time possible for training.

She's undeterred though, feeling much more at peace with truly wanting to be in the pool after learning so much from her experiences leading up to Tokyo.

"It's looking forward to Paris with a completely different mindset, but also with the realisation that if I can't get back then I still leave the sport with no regrets."

While training is firmly off the agenda for the time being, the Push Up Challenge will represent some extra motivation for Campbell for the rest of June.

Challenged with completing 3139 push ups in 24 days to reflect the number of people who died by suicide in 2020, Campbell said it was a motivating but sobering goal to work towards.

"I find it's a really tangible way to comprehend the number of people who lose their life to suicide each year," she said.

"It makes an abstract number become incredibly real.

"I think in some way it helps people feel less alone with the fact that they might be struggling."

Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting