Shayna Jack's golden comeback after anti-doping controversy

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Shayna Jack helped Australia to a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the FINA World Championships this weekend, in her return to international competition. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Shayna Jack helped Australia to a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay at the FINA World Championships this weekend, in her return to international competition. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Australian swimmer Shayna Jack has made her return to international swimming a triumphant one, helping win gold in the women's 4x100 freestyle relay at the World Championships in Budapest.

Jack anchored the Australian team and powered home for gold after teammates Mollie O’Callaghan, Madi Wilson and Meg Harris established a sizeable lead.

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It was a huge moment for Jack, whose hopes of competing at last year's Tokyo Olympics came crashing down after she tested positive to a banned substance at the 2019 World Championships in South Korea.

An array of hearings and appeals would follow, with Jack eventually overturning the four-year ban initially imposed on her, allowing her to return to the pool at the Australian championships earlier this year.

Jack's second place finish in the 100m freestyle, behind O'Callaghan, qualified her for the World Championships - where she didn't disappoint.

The 23-year-old took to social media after the relay final to thank supporters.

“Honoured to share my first moment back in the green and old with these amazing women,” Jack wrote.

“Couldn’t ask for a better start.”

Jack's performance at the national trials earlier this year also qualified her for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham later this year.

After her successful return to the national stage earlier this year, Jack opened up about how difficult the years-long ordeal had been.

"I am just overwhelmed with emotions to be back on the team," Jack said as she wiped away tears.

"Not many people really know what I actually went through, the depths of it.

"And to be back and wearing those (Australian) colours again means more than anything to me.

"I can't thank (enough) all the people in my inner circle who got me through and got me back to swimming.

"My goal was to ... fall back in love with swimming again and I have. I am really, really proud to be back."

Aussie stars make golden start to swimming World Championships

It wasn't just the relay team getting on the board early at the World Championships, with Paris 2024 hopeful Elijah Winnington also making his way to the top of the podium.

Winnington earned redemption after his Olympic disappointment, speeding to an emphatic victory in the 400m freestyle, the first final of the entire week-long programme in Budapest, on Saturday.

A superb launchpad for the Dolphins also saw Kyle Chalmers deliver an anchor leg masterpiece in the men's 4x100m, enabling his teammates William Yang, Matthew Temple and Jack Cartwright to celebrate the most unlikely silver behind a dominant US quartet.

The 22-year-old Gold Coast freestyler Winnington kicked it all off after the opening ceremony, swimming the race of his life and even flirting with the world record for much of his 400m final.

Elijah Winnington hovered at world record pace on his way to victory in the 400m freestyle at the FINA World Championships. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Elijah Winnington hovered at world record pace on his way to victory in the 400m freestyle at the FINA World Championships. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

He eventually settled for a new lifetime best of 3:41.22 as he demolished the field at the Duna Arena in the Hungarian capital by over one-and-a-half seconds and became the fifth fastest ever at the distance.

Ian Thorpe is the only Australian to have gone quicker than his mark, the fastest in the world this year.

"It's incredible. I was really relaxed, I'm just trying to enjoy this experience and that definitely helps," the ecstatic Winnington said.

"In the last call room, I've heard the noise, the MC's voice and it was a total boost for me.

"I haven't had this feeling for a long time."

Last year Winnington, who's suffered from nerves before, was left crestfallen after going into the Olympics with high hopes but finishing only seventh in the final.

With AAP

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