Redemption of Elijah Winnington: From Tokyo Heartbreak to Paris Glory

Elijah Winnington

When Elijah Winnington steps up to the blocks at the Paris Olympic pool, he will offer a short prayer, do a quick mental run-through of all the reasons he belongs there, and remind himself to have fun.

Photo Credit: Bond University

The Hancock Prospecting Swimming Excellence Scholarship recipient and Bachelor of Business student clinched gold in his two pet events, the 400m and 800m freestyle, at the Australian Swimming Championships, earning a prestigious Dolphins cap for his second Olympics. He will also be a part of the 4x200m freestyle relay at Paris’ La Défense Arena.

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Winnington is determined to overcome the disappointment of his 7th-place finish in the 400m freestyle at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The road to Paris has been a transformative journey for Winnington, who openly admits to a “dark six months” following his Tokyo setback. However, with the guidance of mindfulness coach Glen Fisher, he rediscovered his love for swimming and found new motivation. Drawing on his successes since Tokyo, including becoming World Champion in 2022, Winnington enters Paris with renewed confidence and a simple pre-race ritual: a quick prayer for relaxation.

Triumph Over Adversity

Photo Credit: The Australian Olympic Committee

Resilience and perseverance have been hallmarks of Winnington’s ascent to the top. In 2022, he achieved redemption by winning the 400-metre freestyle title at the World Championships, swimming the fifth-fastest time in history. This victory, following his disappointing Tokyo performance, demonstrated his ability to thrive under pressure.

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The momentum continued as he secured the 400-metre freestyle gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, solidifying his status as a top contender. Winnington’s breakthrough moment came at the 2022 Budapest World Championships, where he clinched his first individual international gold in the 400m freestyle, clocking a remarkable 3:41.22, just 1.14 seconds shy of Ian Thorpe’s record.

From Junior Prodigy to Olympic Hopeful

Photo Credit: Elijah Winnington/ Instagram

Winnington’s success story began in his junior years. As a Gold Coast native training at Bond University under coach Richard Scarce, he amassed 26 National Age Championship gold medals by the age of 18. His talent quickly translated to the international stage, where he captained the 2016 Junior Australian Team, earning gold and silver in his first Junior International. He continued to shine at the 2017 World Junior Championships, securing bronze in multiple events.

In 2018, Winnington’s potential became undeniable. After setting two Junior world records, the 17-year-old earned a spot on the senior Dolphins team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where he contributed to a gold medal and a new Commonwealth Record in the 4x200m freestyle relay.

A Thrilling Rivalry and Continued Success

Elijah Winnington with Sam Short
Photo Credit: Swimming World

The emergence of young talent like Sam Short has recently posed a challenge to Winnington’s dominance in the 400-metre freestyle. Their rivalry, reminiscent of the legendary Thorpe-Hackett battles, has captivated Australian swimming fans. In 2023, Short narrowly edged out Winnington at the world championship trials, but Winnington reclaimed his title at the 2024 Australian Open Championships.

The two swimmers continued their fierce competition at the Australian Olympic trials, where Winnington secured victories in both the 400m and 800m freestyle events, solidifying his position as a leading contender for Olympic gold.

Paris Awaits

Photo Credit: The Australian Olympic Committee

As Elijah Winnington prepares to dive into the Olympic pool in Paris, he carries the hopes of a nation and the determination to overcome past setbacks. With his newfound mental resilience and a string of impressive victories behind him, Winnington is ready to make his mark on the world stage once again.

Published Date 25-June-2024