Teen swimming sensation Mollie O'Callaghan has put Ariarne Titmus on notice ahead of the upcoming Paris Games, beating the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m final at the Queensland championships. O'Callaghan won the 200m final at the Queensland championships in 1:54.36, storming home over the final 100m to nab Titmus, who was making her return to competition following abdominal surgery in September.
The 19-year-old broke Titmus' 200m world record back in July at the World Championships and has continued to build on that success. O'Callaghan said post-race the 200m event is "her baby".
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"It's definitely about racing with the mental aspect, you can be physically drained, but you need to stay mentally strong and push through it," said O'Callaghan. "I wanted to do well tonight to see how I’d go, for me coming off worlds, having a break, then doing rehab, then getting sick for three weeks, I was mentally down and a bit up and down for a while.
"I was nervous about if I had done enough work to catch up so truthfully it’s nice to get my main event done first up. Everyone knows I’m a bit of a nervous racer, especially for this one, it’s my baby at the moment, I’m not going to lie, I’ve put a lot into it, and it’s nice to get it done."
Ariarne Titmus 'grateful' after returning from surgery
Despite not being able to hold off O'Callaghan in the 200m final, Titmus says she feels lucky after returning to action following having benign tumours removed from an ovary. The Olympic champion says she was "freaking out" before the operation and the health scare gave her some perspective.
"It's so normal for women to go through this. I've had so many women message me and say 'I had the same thing, I lost my ovary and I still had babies'," Titmus said.
"Timing is everything and I believe everything happens for a reason. I'm so grateful we picked it up when we did. It was almost the perfect time to get it out. If I'd had the scan in February or March, it would have completely derailed my Olympics."
Despite Titmus confirming she will be ready to go at Paris, she says she needs to 'catch up' to her competition. "I'm really playing catch-up at the moment, trying to put in as much work as I can, so I'm pretty buggered racing here," she said.
"I know I'm on my way back and I can't read too much into my swims here. I definitely have time, but I don't have time to waste. I probably think I'm actually in a better position now than I thought I would be." Titmus won individual gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle events at the last Olympics.
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