Shayna Jack’s golden swimming comeback cut short by freak injury at worlds
Australian swimmer Shayna Jack’s world championships are over after she broke a hand in a warm-up area. Jack had collected gold and silver medals in relay events ahead of her scheduled individual swims at the world titles in Budapest but the 23-year-old, on return to international competition after a two-year doping ban, was hurt in a freak accident on Wednesday.
“I’m broken-hearted to announce that I have to withdraw from the rest of the competition and that I won’t have the opportunity to achieve everything I wanted to,” Jack posted on Instagram. “I am still so proud of what I’ve achieved, how far I’ve come with the amazing teammates I’ve been able to medal with.”
Jack said she broke a hand “due to an unfortunate incident in this morning’s training session”. News Corp reported the injury happened when she got her hand caught in another swimmer’s suit as she turned in the water at the wall of the pool.
The Australian was due to swim the 50m and 100m freestyle events after earlier making a successful return to international racing. Jack was part of Australia’s gold-medal winning 4x100m freestyle relay on the opening night of competition and added a silver medal as part of the nation’s 4x100m mixed medley team.
Jack said she would now turn her attention to competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham starting 28 July. “As I always do, I turn my focus to the future and that is the Commonwealth Games,” she posted. “Starting this afternoon I will be back in the pool for a kick session.”
Jack was banned for two years just before the last world championships in 2019 after traces of a banned substance were found in her system. She was initially suspended for four years but the ban was reduced to two years.
The Queenslander has maintained her innocence of performance-enhancing doping, admitting she did not know how she tested positive to the banned substance Ligandrol.
Meanwhile, Mollie O’Callaghan raced to her third medal of the world championships by spearheading the Australia 4x200m freestyle relay quartet to silver. Though she could not bring home the main prize on the anchor leg in Wednesday’s final, the 18-year-old star also demonstrated earlier with an amazing swim in the 100m freestyle that a second gold could soon be on its way.
And Thursday also offers the scent of another gold with Zac Stubblety-Cook ready to dominate the 200m breaststroke final to complete an Olympics-world championship double.
Queenslander O’Callaghan took the limelight as she attempted to top off the efforts of Madi Wilson, Leah Neale and Kiah Melverton on the previous three legs of the 4×200 by overhauling American anchor-leg swimmer Bella Sims. But having competed a breathtaking semi-final of the 100m only 90 minutes earlier, O’Callaghan, the individual 200m silver medallist, couldn’t get near the flying Sims.
After fine work from Claire Weinstein, Leah Smith and the great Katie Ledecky, who produced a decisive third leg, Sims brought the US home in a championship record 7 minutes 41.45 seconds, well clear of Australia (7:43.86).
“Coming in here I knew I would be swimming against Ledecky on that third leg and she is one of the best swimmers of all time,” Melverton said. “I just did what I needed to do and held my ground and I thought I did a pretty good job of that. The 4×2 has such a great history in our country and so for us to get up and win a silver medal together is pretty special.”
O’Callaghan, though, had earlier produced an astonishing performance in her individual semi, clocking the fastest-ever second half to a women’s race, amazingly shooting from last to first place over a landmark final length timed at 26.43sec.
That was just one-hundredth of a second slower than her first half of the race and her 52.85sec saw her qualify fastest for Thursday’s final, ahead of Sweden’s eight-time world champion Sarah Sjostrom. Having also won gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, O’Callaghan could potentially end up with six medals as she also has chances in the mixed 4x100m freestyle relay and women’s 4x100m medley relay.
The Dolphins have now picked up eight medals in total – two golds, five silvers and one bronze – after five days of competition to put them fourth on the table behind the USA (11 golds), Italy (four golds) and China (three golds).