Cate Campbell continues to amaze me.
It's not her athletic prowess, her gold medal in the 4x100 freestyle relay or even the fact that she holds the world record for 100m freestyle.
It's the way she's handled herself in the past two weeks.
In the face of scrutiny and criticism by the media and Australian public over her "choke" in the 100m freestyle final at the Rio Olympics, she has been stoic and courageous. I cannot begin to imagine the pressure that Cate was faced with in the days before the race. But mostly, the pressure she placed on herself to succeed. A dream she had been chasing after for many years. Years of early mornings and hard work in and out of the pool. And to have that crushed in a matter of seconds must be awfully painful to deal with.
While Cate wasn't able to grab a gold medal, she was able to do something much more difficult and valuable, and that was to remain dignified in the face of failure. Not once did she make excuses for her performance. She didn't blame anyone, rather, she thanked everyone for their support. And when she said to Australia, "please still love me," I thought, how can we not? You are the definition of a strong female athlete, one that all young women should look up to.
It would be an understatement to say that the countless interviews asking the same questions and unwavering media attention have been overwhelming for the young athlete. It would be mentally exhausting. It would be totally reasonable for any person under that sort of pressure to snap. Yet Cate has held herself beautifully.
If there's one word to sum up Cate Campbell's run at the Rio Olympics, it is RESILIENCE. What a wonderful attribute to have developed and been able to showcase in the face of adversity! A few days ago, news came out revealing Cate's hernia. Cate swam at the Olympics with a hernia, which can be terribly painful and won a gold and silver medal and set a world record, feats not to be diminished.
Still, she has been harsh on herself. Too harsh. With time the wounds of coming up short will heal. It is important to remember that while Olympic athletes are elite performers, they are human first. And humans are fallible.
Thank you Cate, for swimming for Australia. But mostly, thank you for inspiring me to be a fearless competitor and remain dignified in the tough times. If you do swim in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Australia will be rooting for you, cheering you on as loud as ever.