Campbell shoulders load at world championships
SWIMMING: Bronte Campbell's task in defending her two world titles in the 50m and 100m freestyle just got a lot tougher.
Not only will Campbell be racing the form female swimmer of the year, the rampant Swede Sarah Sjostrom, but she will do so with pain in both her shoulders.
Campbell, 23, struggled with inflammation in her left shoulder during the Olympic year and could only manage fourth in the Olympic final in Rio. And just when she began to feel she had that injury under some control, her right shoulder has gone.
Campbell said the past two weeks have been the worst final preparation she has had for a major championship since making her international debut at the 2012 Olympics.
Her coach Simon Cusack said Campbell required a cortisone injection to settle the right joint down and she was also sick at the Australian team training camp in the Netherlands last week.
"We have had to throw any plan out the window,” he said.
"I am trying to juggle her into the race tonight (the 4 x 100m freestyle relay) and whatever she swims will be done on sheer guts. Then we have four days to try to get things settled for the 100m.”
With her older sister and regular partner in crime Cate absent from the Australian team as she takes a sabbatical year, Campbell said everything was slightly out of kilter for her.
"It's definitely different not having Cate on the team because she's been on every international team I've been on,” Campbell said.
"It's a little bit different but the team is like an extension of my family. It's different having a new roomie (Madison Wilson) but it's not that strange. It will be strange being in the call room without her and it will be different not having her in the race.”
The younger Campbell has proven herself to be a big-meet performer when fully fit and as one of the team leaders in Budapest, she will want to tough it out this week.
Her first assignment will be to lead an exceedingly young women's 4 x 100m freestyle relay team as it defends the title in Budapest on Sunday night.
Without Cate, the women's sprint relay, which has won every international title on offer since 2014, and twice lowered the world record, is vulnerable to a resurgent American team.
But the Aussie quartet will be desperate to maintain their recent record of supremacy.
Campbell is now the senior member of that team and is most likely to combine with multiple Olympic medallist Emma McKeon, world short-course champion Brittany Elmslie and rookie Shayna Jack in the final.
Cusack said all four women would have to be at their best to have a chance to retain the title "and it might still not be enough”.
The Australian men are in a similar position with a youthful sprint relay quad led by 23-year-old Cameron McEvoy, and including teenagers Jack Cartwright and Louis Townsend, as well as Zac Incerti (21) and Alex Graham (22). They will do well to win a medal, with most making their senior national team debuts.
In the other event that will be decided on Sunday night, new distance prodigy Ariarne Titmus, 16, will dip her toes into world championship waters for the first time in the 400m freestyle, where she will take on the sport's resident queen, American Olympic champion and world record-holder Katie Ledecky.
Despite her tender years, Tasmania's Titmus is already ranked fourth in the world after a breakthrough performance at the national trials in April.