FRIDAY, JUNE 18
Australia will send a 35-strong swimming team to the Tokyo Olympic Games, headlined by a group of fearless young stars, in-form veterans, a defending champion and a selection of relay squads that will take a power of beating in Japan.
The final cut was made at the end of the Olympic trials in Adelaide on Thursday night, a meet that produced a series of brilliant swims as Kaylee McKeown, Ariarne Titmus and Emma McKeon, among others, confirmed their status as serious medal threats in the Tokyo waters.
And there was a feelgood story in Sydney’s Matt Wilson, second in the 200m breaststroke only to miss the qualifying mark for a second straight Games, who was given his ticket to Tokyo.
Wilson broke down in tears after his race but now owns a coveted ticket to Japan,writes Phil Lutton in the Sydney Morning HJerald.
It was later revealed Wilson was grieving from the death of his grandmother just days earlier. Swimming Australia used their discretionary powers to include him in the squad and he will pay them back in spades as a relay swimmer.
“I’m still trying to wrap my head around it quite honestly,” Wilson told Amazon. “Just 24 hours ago I didn’t think I was going to be on this Olympic team. I was getting ready to plan my break. It’s funny, sport. It’s been such a roller-coaster 24 hours. I’m just stoked to be here and hopefully I can repay the faith for Tokyo.
The last couple of weeks have been really tough and I’m glad I could make the team for her (grandmother). I’m sure she’d be proud of me.”
Wilson didn’t even tell Swimming Australia powerbrokers about the news and just tried to swim through the pain. When they started digging deeper, it was quickly decided to add his name to the list.
“We got informed yesterday (Wednesday) that there were some extenuating circumstances we needed to look into. We had a discussion as a selection panel last night. We determined based on the fact we have a former world record holder, won a worlds silver medal not that long ago, we wanted to give him the opportunity to add value to the team,” said head coach Rohan Taylor.
So emphatic were the trials that the Dolphins head to Tokyo seeded No.1 in nine of the 28 individual events. Those are: McKeon (50m-100m freestyle), Titmus (200m-400m freestyle), McKeown (100m-200m backstroke, 200m IM), Elijah Winnington (400m freestyle), Zac Stubblety-Cook (200m breaststroke).
The depth is formidable, with the women’s 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays both gold medal favourites, while Australia’s men are also in the medal mix with their 4x200m freestyle squad. The medley and mixed medley relays are both going to be there when the whips are cracking.
Cate Campbell and Emily Seebohm will compete at their fourth Olympic Games, joining Leisel Jones as the only Australian swimmers ever to reach the milestone. Three others will compete at their third Games: Bronte Campbell, Mitch Larkin and Cameron McEvoy.
Taylor said he was happy with a hard week of swimming and loved the depth of the squad they were taking to the postponed Games.
“I’ve been really pleased with the performances this week,” Taylor said. “It’s so great to be able to get back to a full meet like this and see our team perform so well. This is a strong team, and I’m particularly pleased with the strength of our relays, it shows the fantastic depth in this squad.
“Getting selected to the Olympic Games is a real team effort. These athletes have great support behind them, congratulations and thank you to the coaches, support staff and supporters who have helped make this happen.
“We have a big five weeks ahead of us. Now it’s about preparing our athletes for what they’ll experience and get them ready to perform on the biggest stage in the world in Tokyo.”
Of the 18 women and 17 men, there will be 21 on debut, among those some of Australia’s greatest gold medal hopes. How they manage the intense pressure of the Games will be one of Swimming Australia’s chief concerns over coming weeks.
After a day that threw another spanner in the works of Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout, the co-chair of the nation’s chief immunisation advice body has said the advice for the AstraZeneca jab could soon change again, reports news.com.
Yesterday, the Government revised its advice on the vaccine, saying it should now only be given to those aged 60 and above after a 52-year-old woman died from a brain clot last week. She was the second person in Australia to die from complications linked to the jab.
It is important to point out that if you’ve already had a first dose of the vaccine, the advice states you should definitely go and get a second.
The Government was given the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) which looked at all of the risks and factors involved before making a decision.
Co-chair of the group Associate Professor Christopher Blyth told 7.30 last night 60 people have had a rare clotting syndrome reaction to the jab over the past 10 weeks in Australia.
He said it was important for ATAGI to act to instil confidence in the nation’s vaccine rollout.
“It is significantly more than deaths to talk about,” he said. “We’ve got some people who have had significant medical complications from this, and so that’s why we do need to have a program which is balanced and that’s what we’re doing by raising the age to 60.”
Dr Blyth said the risk of the complication is about 3.1 per 100,000 for those under the age of 50, and lower than that for older people.
However, he said the rate of this complication is increasing, particularly in those in the 50 to 59-year-old age group – which is why the organisation was concerned.
There have been 12 new cases of confirmed or probable clots in the last week, with seven of those in people aged 50 to 59 years old.
In making the decision, Dr Blyth said ATAGI took into consideration Australia’s “lucky position” in having very low numbers of Covid cases.
It means the risk of the virus currently is much lower than in other nations and the new complications in people aged 50-59 have shifted the risk-to-benefit ratio of the vaccine for that age group.
In other words, they felt the risks of developing a clot outweighed the benefit of being protected against severe Covid-19 for the time being.
However, he said that could all change. And, it could change pretty quickly if cases begin to explode in either NSW or Victoria.
Dr Blyth said ATAGI could “absolutely” change the advice around AstraZeneca vaccines.
“The risk of this needs to be context-specific,” he said. “What is happening internationally is vastly different from what’s happening locally at this stage.
“We believe the risks of severe Covid outcomes for younger people warrant the use of the Pfizer vaccine in that situation.
Underworld boss Bilal Hamze has been killed after a drive-by shooting in the heart of Sydney’s CBD overnight, sources have confirmed.
Mr Hamze was the cousin of notorious Brothers 4 Life gang leader and murderer Bassam Hamzy, who is serving time in Goulburn Supermax Jail.
Police and paramedics were called to Bridge Street near Circular Quay after reports that multiple gunshots were fired.
Mr Hamze was found in a critical condition and was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst, but died a short time later.
Police sources say the gunman is believed to have fled the scene in a dark-coloured Audi and a crime scene has been established.
A witness said she was in bed reading when she heard the shots, followed by an eerie silence.
“All of a sudden I heard several shots go off three, four or five and I was like ‘is that a gun?’,” the US citizen said.
“I didn’t hear any cars or anything for at least a minute or two and I thought that I should go outside and look … then I heard sirens, probably a few minutes later.”
The woman said being from America, where firearms were much more common, she was shocked it was a shooting.
“I didn’t think it was [guns] because I’m in Australia … that’s wild, knowing that I live just a walk from here.”
Detectives are concerned about possible reprisal attacks because of the high-profile nature of the shooting.
Mr Hamze is the son of Maha Hamze, the family’s matriarch, who was shot and seriously injured outside her Auburn home in 2013.
That same townhouse was targeted in October when another cousin, Mejid Hamzy, was shot dead outside his Condell Park home.
Maha Hamze’s property was again shot at in February, resulting in a stray bullet piercing the window of Auburn Hospital and coming within inches of a nurse.
Days later, NSW Police expanded the state’s anti-bikie squad, Strike Force Raptor , amid a gangland war between the Hamzy and Alameddine families.
The ABC does not suggest the Alameddine family was behind any of the shootings targeting the Hamzy family.
It’s unclear why Bilal Hamze was targeted, but sources believe it may be drug related.
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