Cate Campbell's Olympic dream shattered in heartbreaking scenes at swimming trials

The 32-year-old is attempting to become the first Aussie swimmer to compete at five Olympics.

Cate Campbell's bid to become the first Australian swimmer to qualify for five Olympic Games has gone up in flames in heartbreaking scenes at the selection trials in Brisbane. The four-time Olympic gold medallist was ninth-fastest in Friday morning's heats in the 100m freestyle, and missed out on the final by one-hundredth of a second.

The 32-year-old clocked 54.27 seconds, which was just 0.01 second behind eighth-ranked swimmer Milla Jansen. In a field stacked with talent, Meg Harris (52.52) topped the time sheets ahead of last year's world champion Mollie O'Callaghan (52.57).

Shayna Jack (52.60) was third-quickest and Campbell's sister Bronte (52.95) was fourth ahead of Olivia Wunsch (53.30), reigning Olympic champion Emma McKeon (53.61) and Brianna Throssell (53.78). Cate Campbell looked shattered as she exited the pool and didn't speak to the media.

Cate Campbell.
Cate Campbell was visibly upset after missing the final of the 100m freestyle at the Olympic swimming trials. Image: AAP

Bronte Campbell said she felt for her sister, who was Australia's joint flag-bearer at the Tokyo Games in 2021. Bronte revealed her sister was struck down by illness in the lead-up to the meet.

"I'm obviously really disappointed for Cate," she said. "She is one of the most incredible athletes that we've ever had in this event. She was her No.1 freestyler for what, 10, 11, 12 years in a row? That is a feat that's pretty much unmatched in Australian sporting history.

"I know she was a bit ill leading into this and had a really rough last few weeks. So I'm sure she'll be disappointed because we all know that she's an incredible athlete and can swim a lot faster than that."

Cate Campbell at the Olympic swimming trials.
Cate Campbell missed out by just 0.01 seconds. Image: AAP

Cate will swim in the 50m freestyle on Saturday - her final chance to qualify for the Olympic team. But her chances of finishing in the top two appear slim, given the event features defending Olympic champion McKeon, as well as O'Callaghan, Jack and Harris.

Cate is a former world record holder in the 100m freestyle. She won gold medals at the 2012, 2016 and 2021 Olympics as part of relay teams, but never snared an individual Olympic gold.

Elsewhere on Friday, men's 1500m freestyle favourite Sam Short withdrew from the trials due to illness, but has already posted a time under Swimming Australia's qualifying benchmark for the Olympics. Short won bronze in the 1500m at last year's world championships in Japan, and the 19-year-old had already finished second in both the 400m and 800m freestyle finals earlier at the trials. After securing selection in those events he revealed he had been battling gastroenteritis.


In Friday's men's 200m backstroke heats, Mitch Larkin kept alive his hopes of racing at a fourth Olympics by sneaking into the final. He clocked one minute 59.93 seconds and was eighth-fastest qualifier in a field headed by Brad Woodward (1:56.91) and Josh Edwards-Smith (1:58.14).

In the men's 200m breaststroke heats, defending Olympic champion Zac Stubblety-Cook topped qualifying in two minutes 08.40 seconds, with Joshua Yong (2:10.66) next best. Jenna Strauch was quickest through the women's 200m breaststroke heats in 2:24.83 followed by Ella Ramsey (2:25.21).

with AAP