INSTAGRAM | @dolphinsaus

STANDING ATOP the world championship podium on Saturday night, with the Australian flag fluttering behind them and the national anthem blaring, the Australian mixed 4×100 metre freestyle relay team had just broken another world record and claimed the nation’s 15th and final gold medal at the 2023 World Aquatics Championships. This was a scene that fans had become accustomed to in Fukuoka, one that likely induced severe cases of déjà vu as Australia dominated the world championships — proving we’re a force to be reckoned with at Paris 2024.

It is said that sports can only become boring when the same competitor wins every competition. Clearly, whoever believes in that mantra hasn’t been on the winning side of the equation very often. It’s been a veritable gold rush for Australian athletes at this year’s World Aquatics Championships, who are bringing home 15 gold and 30 total medals. Dispelling the myth that lightning can’t strike the same place twice, that output is Australia’s best since the 2001 world championships, which were also in Fukuoka.

This year is also the first time since 2001 that Australia has finished ahead of the USA on the final medal table, an accomplishment that Australian athletes won’t let their American counterparts forget anytime soon. Adding fuel to the fire of the bitter swimming rivalry between the two nations, swimmer Kyle Chalmers pulled no punches when describing the elation of becoming a world champion. “It’s always satisfying standing on the podium and at times not having to listen to the American anthem and listen to our own,” Chalmers said. “It’s very proud when you get to see your Australian flag come up and stand with your teammates.”

Did Australia win the World Aquatics Championships?

All in all, Australia finished second on the total medal table, behind China, but topped the medal table in swimming, tallying 13 gold, seven silver and five bronze medals — a total that no other nation came close to.

The USA finished second on the medal table with seven gold medals, which (unless you have trouble with basic counting) you’ll recognise as significantly less than 13. Despite the unambiguous standings, an American coach has refused to concede that Australia have clearly been the best team in Fukuoka. That’s because, for some reason, the USA considers total medals the best indicator of performance, while every other nation rightfully acknowledges that gold medals are worth more than any other colour.

Disregarding the fact that final medal table leaves very little room for discrepancy, Bob Bowman, the Head Coach of the US swim team, has suggested there’s a caveat to Australia’s place atop the tally. “There are a number of ways to calculate it,” Bowman said. “Total number: USA. Gold medals, pick which one you like.” Sorry to break it to you Bob, but you’ll have a hard time convincing anyone other than a red-blooded American patriot that Australia wasn’t the best team at this year’s championships.

Who were Australia’s best performers at the world championships?

The Australian team broke five world records in Fukuoka, with a litany of star athletes staking their place at the pinnacle of their respective sports. Triple Olympic champion Kaylee McKeown was disqualified for an incorrect turn in her first event, but bounced back go three from three and win gold in all of her other events. 19-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan looked like she’ll be an Olympic champion for years to come, winning five gold medals, four of which were in world record time. While veteran Cam McEvoy claimed his first individual world championship gold medal at the ripe old age of 29 — breathe easy, 29 is only considered old in the world of swimming.

Outside of swimming, Australia stopped China’s dominance in diving, with Cassiel Rousseau’s gold medal in the men’s ten metre platform preventing a Chinese clean sweep, as the nation claimed gold in every other diving event. Rhiannan Iffland also won gold in the women’s high diving event — which, in a sport where death defying stunts even Tom Cruise wouldn’t attempt are the norm, is best watched from the safety of your couch.

From forgotten heroes giving it one last shot to rising phenom’s with the world at their feet, find the full list of Australian gold medal winners below:

2023 World Aquatic Championships: Australian gold medal winners

Cassiel Rousseau – Men’s 10 metre platform

Sam Short – Men’s 400 metre freestyle

Ariarne Titmus – Women’s 400 metre freestyle

Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack, Meg Harris, Emma McKeon – Women’s 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay

Jack Cartwright, Flynn Southam, Kai Taylor, Kyle Chalmers – Men’s 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay

Kaylee McKeown – Women’s 100 metre backstroke

Rhiannan Iffland – Women’s high diving

Mollie O’Callaghan – Women’s 200 metre freestyle

Kyle Chalmers Swimming – Men’s 100 metre freestyle

Kaylee McKeown – Women’s 50 metre backstroke

Mollie O’Callaghan, Shayna Jack, Brianna Throssell, Ariarne Titmus – Women’s 4 × 200 metre freestyle relay

Mollie O’Callaghan – Women’s 100 metre freestyle

Cameron McEvoy – Men’s 50 metre freestyle

Kaylee McKeown – Women’s 200 metre backstroke

Jack Cartwright, Kyle Chalmers, Shayna Jack, Mollie O’Callaghan – Mixed 4 × 100 metre freestyle relay

INSTAGRAM | @kyle_chalmers3

What does this mean for Australia’s Olympic chances?

Regardless of the disparaging remarks of a few sore losers, Australia has demonstrated that its athletes are strong contenders for medals at next year’s Olympic Games. Australia broke five world records during the meet, with young guns like 19-year-old Mollie O’Callaghan proving that the next generation of Australian swimmers could be one of the best ever.

At the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Australia took home 17 gold medals, the nations best performance since 2004, but if recent results are anything to go by, Paris 2024 could be one for the record books.

Performance at the world championships, while not quite as prestigious, often correlates to Olympic results. Coming off an already strong Olympics in 2020, Australia’s athletes have only gotten better. With a litany of medal contenders bolstering the ranks, Australia will likely continue to trend towards the top of the Olympic medal table — barring any extremely unlucky circumstances and untimely disqualifications.

When are the next Olympics?

The next Summer Olympic Games are less than a year away and will be held in Paris from July 26th to August 11th, 2024. If you’re wondering why the Games seem to have snuck up on you this time around, it’s probably because the last edition was held only two years ago, in 2021 instead of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains to be seen how a shorter time between Games will impact athletes’ performance, but considering that we don’t have to wait as long for the Olympics, we won’t be complaining.


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