Isaac Cooper leads Aussie gold rush after controversial robbery at world championships

The 20-year-old and the women's 4x100m medley relay team won gold for Australia on the final night in Doha.

Isaac Cooper and the women's 4x100m medley relay team at the swimming world championships.

Isaac Cooper and Shayna Jack have helped Australia win two more gold medals on the final night of the swimming world championships in Doha. Cooper stunned world record holder Hunter Armstrong in the 50m backstroke final, winning his first individual gold medal at a world championships after he was robbed two years ago.

The 20-year-old led from start to finish before edging the defending champion Armstrong by 0.2 seconds at the wall, with Ksawery Masiuk of Poland finishing third. Remarkably, Cooper hit the lane rope multiple times with his arm and shoulder, but battled through to claim the title.

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The triumph comes after he was controversially robbed of gold at the short course world championships in Melbourne in 2022. He won two gold medals in relays at that meet, but a farcical situation cost him individual glory in the 50m backstroke.

Cooper touched the wall first and thought he'd won gold, only to find out that half the field had stopped swimming because a second 'beep' went off after the start of the race. Cooper kept swimming and touched the wall in a time of 22.49 seconds, which would have won gold and set a new junior world record.

But World Aquatics officials ruled that the race would need to be re-swum, and Cooper went on to come second behind Ryan Murphy of America - whose time was slower than Cooper's in the initial race. Cooper was left distraught and burst into tears after walking away with silver.

"Life just keeps throwing shit at me and I just keep on pushing through," the Aussie said at the time. "I've gone through so many low points and all I want to do is be able to stand on top. Every time I get close, I get knocked back again. If I can come back from this I know I will be a better person and athlete."

Ian Thorpe said in commentary at the time: “They’ve got to notify the athletes. This is rubbish. They have to notify them. There should’ve been a drop (of a rope). This is a false start at the 15m mark. So that all athletes knew. There is a huge disadvantage to those that have continued.”

After the race Thorpe added: "I thought it was a horrible thing that happened. Unfortunately in sport it isn't who deserves it the most. Sport often isn't fair. We try and make it as fair as possible for everyone, whether that's our rules around doping or our rules around a situation like this."

Isaac Cooper, pictured here after winning gold at the swimming world championships.
Isaac Cooper celebrates after winning gold at the swimming world championships.

Shayna Jack leads Australia to relay gold medal

We now know how strong Cooper is as a person and athlete after he bounced back to claim gold on Sunday night in Doha. It was one of two gold medals for Australia on the final evening of competition, with the women's 4x100m medley relay team also touching home in first.

Shayna Jack produced a stunning final freestyle leg to take Australia to first place after Iona Anderson, Brianna Throssell and Abbey Harkin had laid the platform. "Every single girl here did their job, that's why we are No.1," Jack said. "[Australia] are in a great position [heading into the Paris Olympics]."

Jack and Throssell both finished with six medals each in a tireless campaign in Doha. It marked the continuation of Jack's triumphant return to swimming following her controversial suspension for unknowingly taking a banned substance.

Shayna Jack, Brianna Throssell, Abbey Harkin and Iona Anderson.
Shayna Jack, Brianna Throssell, Abbey Harkin and Iona Anderson with their gold medals. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images)

Australia finished with seven golds, 12 silver and five bronze across the entire World Aquatics Championships, which also includes the diving, water polo, artistic swimming and open water swimming. The Aussies' 24-medal tally was only exceeded by China (33 with 23 gold), although the USA won more gold medals in total with nine.

In the pool Australia won 16 medals (three gold, nine silver and four bronze), and were beaten only by the United States (20 medals with eight gold). However China won the most golds with seven. Sam Williamson was Australia's other gold medallist in the pool after he won the 50m breaststroke title.

with AAP

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