Sidelines stint sparked Olympic glory for Young Australian of the Year Emma McKeon

Olympic swimmer Emma McKeon has been named Young Australian of the Year.

Olympic swimmer Emma McKeon has been named Young Australian of the Year. Photo: AAP

Emma McKeon became the most decorated Australian in Olympic history by the time she was 28.

Swimming was in the world champion’s blood. Her mother, father, brother and uncle have all represented Australia.

But a devastating setback in 2012 threatened to throw her career off course.

McKeon narrowly missed out on selection for the London Olympics and took a break from the water.

The spell away from the pool reignited her passion and McKeon came back with a vengeance.

The freestyle and butterfly specialist made a splash at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, claiming six medals from six races.

She went on to bag a swag of medals in relay races at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

And at Tokyo in 2020, McKeon became the first female swimmer and second woman in history to win seven medals in one Olympics.

McKeon’s overall total of 11 Olympic medals broke the Australian record of nine held by Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones.

She has broken Commonwealth, Olympic and World records.

The swimming sensational has previously been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia and bestowed other honours.

And at a ceremony in Canberra on Thursday night, McKeon was named the 2024 Young Australian of the Year.

“I’ve been swimming for as long as I can remember and I grew up being inspired by incredible athletes, which put a fire in my belly to go after my dreams and do something great with the power of determination and hard work,” she said.

“Don’t be afraid to take on hard things and set aspirational goals that at times might be scary.”

National Australia Day Council chair John Foreman paid tribute to McKeon.

“Emma shows us, with grace and humility, how commitment, hard work and passion can lead to greatness,” he said.

“She is a true role model for all Australians, young and old, on how to pursue your dreams.”


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