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Australia

Day 6 of the 2024 World Swimming Championships was all about Shayna Jack for the Dolphins Swim Team even though she was the only Aussie to take out the bronze for the night after she finished 3rd in the Women’s 100m Freestyle Final. Now she might be nowhere near Marrit Steinbergen from the Netherlands (52.26) and even Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (52.86) by just a second behind these two but she didn’t do bad though where Jack managed to keep the last medal podium spot right through the end of the wall at 52.83 secs. There is a few gold medal opportunities up for grabs this weekend starting tomorrow with promising signs from Cam McEvoy who was fastest in both his heat and the overall the Men’s 50m Freestyle semi-final as he will look to take out the gold again tomorrow morning. He will be joined by Isaac Cooper in this meet as they both want to make a 1-2 for our Aussie Dolphins. Look out for Alex Perkins having been second fastest in semi-final 2 of the Women’s 50m Butterfly ahead of team-mate Brianna Throssell in 4th where they will both look to get the job done inn the final tomorrow. Don’t forget there will be another USA v Australia challenge this time in Jaclyn Barclay v Clare Curzan in the Women’s 200m backstroke & Barclay hopes it’s her moment by ending Curzan’s unreal dominance up front for the gold. And both Maddy Gough & Kiah Melverton will round out the Super Saturday golden line-up in the Women’s 800m Freestyle Final.

As said, forget about smashing the medal tally again since most of our top swimmers are going for the Olympics which is more important than just going in at another World Champs in such short time. But again, it gives some other swimmers a chance to make a name for themselves including a few teenage/juniors who are part of our next generation cohort & sure they will make that count this weekend on a high note before looking ahead at the National Olympic trials around June.

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Still no gold on Day 3 of the 2024 World Swimming Championships but the Dolphins Swim Team collected just the one silver from Iona Anderson in the Women’s 100m backstroke final that includes fellow Aussie Jaclyn Barclay, who finished 4th in that race. Good effort up front in the last dash but just not enough to stop Clare Curzan in time for the gold by nearly one second (+00.83). It’s her first World Championship medal at only age 17/18 as WA has a brilliant talented swimmer right there & sure she will get better in the years ahead with lots of gold medals being earned all over it. The same goes to Barclay, who fell short outside of the podium spots, but again Barclay is 16 from QLD & also one of the brightest next crop of stars to light up in the next few years including the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and the home games in Brisbane for 2032 as well.

Other than that it’s not Elijah Willington’s day as we hoped for in the Men’s 200m Freestyle Final where he finished 7th. So does Maddy Gough after she also came home in the same position as Elijah in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle Final, having competed in the open water World Championship races with Moesha Johnson earlier this month in 18th.

Going into Day 4, we might not have the time to catch up and dominate this medal tally again like last year in Fukuoka, Japan, since most of them have skipped this WC on what is going to be a huge Olympics year in July-August. But there’s a few gold opportunities we can look forward to with Sam Williamson in the Men’s 50m breaststroke (fastest in his own semi heat & will start from lane 4) as well as Shayna Jack & Brianna Throssell in the Women’s 200m Freestyle with huge competition up for grabs, Winnington again in the 800m Freestyle & the 4 x 200m Mixed Medley Team Relay. So 2-3 would be great but to be real with USA & China comfortably in front, the Dolphins should finally take out the gold tomorrow.

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Day 2 of the 2024 World Swimming Championships was okay but underwhelming when trying to snatch a gold medal for our Dolphins where Cam McAvoy only walked away with just the bronze in the Men’s 50m butterfly Final ahead of team-mate Isaac Cooper who finished 4th. Other than that, there were close finishes just outside the podium spots like Sam Williamson in the Men’s 100m breaststroke Final as well as Brianna Throssell in the Women’s 100m Butterfly Final. Also, Alex Perkins was with Throssell in that race but she finished 6th.

So still no gold yet going into Day 3 but there’s always a few opportunities coming up with Elijah Winnington in the Men’s 200m Freestyle, Maddy Gough in the Women’s 1500m Freestyle, Jaclyn Barclay & Iona Anderson in the Women’s 100m backstroke. As said while some of our best swimmers will prioritise the Olympics this year over another unusual World Championships, but our Dolphins team are doing their best & sure they will get better as it gets later this week in Doha, Qatar.

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The first day of another unexpected World Swimming Championships from Doha, Qatar, saw the Dolphins collect all two silver medals – despite falling one short away from gold – as they sit 5th on this medal tally. Oh so close from Elijah Winnington who came back so hard to hunt the leader down in the last 100m towards the end on what has been a huge 400m Freestyle Final, but just didn’t tap the wall first under pressure to upsurge Woomin Kim (South Korea) in 2nd. Good to see him rebound though as hope he will go one better again like he did two years ago with his first gold medal, having only collected one bronze during the 4 x Men’s 200m Freestyle Relay at the last World Champs in Fukuoka, Japan, seven months ago.

Now some of our top swimmers have chosen to forego this tourney, especially with a big year ahead that early with the Olympics later this July-August. However, the female relay team did their absolute best in the 4 x 100m Freestyle Final consisting of Shayna Jack, Abbey Harkin, Alex Perkins & Brianna Throssell. Again, brilliant start by Throssell up to 2nd place while things could’ve been better when it comes to the last half dashes during the middle leg in particular with Harkin & Perkins in there, but Shayna Jack got them back up front in the best way possible where she fell so short by just 00.32 sec towards the end there to the Netherlands. Sure the second string squad will learn well from the best who are not in Doha by filling their void and push themselves towards the next level throughout this week and the months to come.

And shoutout to our Tasman neighbour Erika Fairweather who won her first ever gold medal for both herself and New Zealand after she dominated comfortably in the 400m Freestyle Final. Let’s hope despite some of them missing or sitting out, the Dolphins can do better on Day 2 tomorrow morning (Australian time) by topping the medal charts once again.

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Image Reference: Lukas Raich via Wikipedia, CC BY 4.0 International

Another Aussie driver to keep an eye on other than Oscar Piastri & Daniel Ricciardo is 21-year-old Jack Doohan, who will simply be backing up for Alpine this season in a simulator and reserve role – just like New Zealand’s Liam Lawson for Visa CashApp RB despite his good limited outings while Ricciardo recovered from a broken hand last year. His racing record through the ranks might not be the best but he too can bag a few podiums and race wins, having gone so close (runner-up) three years ago in Formula 3 as well as finishing 3rd last year following an underwhelming first half campaign in Formula 2. He could’ve also gone over to the World Endurance Championship or even attempt IndyCar such as the Indianapolis 500. But don’t think going for the Triple Crown or achieving anything outside Formula 1 will mean that much to them these days as this is still the top ranked Motorsport competition in the world & that is something Jack would want to do on race days in 2025.

Lewis Hamilton recently confirmed he will be leaving Mercedes for Ferrari next year & someone from Alpine in Esteban Ocon could potentially be his replacement alongside George Russell. Let’s hope Jack can do well when being given the chance on Friday practice sessions throughout the year in the hope that Alpine will be worthy of giving him a shot next year, so they can forget about having previous conflicts with Piastri who hopped onto McLaren instead at the end of the 2022 season.

If not, Williams should try him again had Logan Sargent been unable to obtain enough Super Licence points that would’ve denied him a 2023 Formula 1 seat. But now he is still not getting up to speed following a very poor rookie year as another bad season would see him head out of the door for good. Let’s hope Jack can be like his legendary motorcycle grand prix father Mick who won so much back in his day but through a very different discipline and that will be the highest levels in Formula 1.

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It was a very tough day in the office last night after the Hockeyroos were beaten so bad by the top-ranked & free scoring Netherlands team. The Netherlands have started off well who scored three goals in the first two quarters before Tatum Stewart snatched one back for the Hockeyroos ahead of half-time at 3-1. Unfortunately, the Hockeyroos fell way behind later on where the Dutch kept on scoring with their extended lead during the 2nd half. Marjin Veen got away with a hat-trick while midfielder Yibbi Jansen continued to score as always with two off the penalty corner. Yes, another Stewart in Grace have added the 2nd consolation goal for the Hockeyroos herself in the 4th & final Quarter on what has been her third goal this week like the other Stewart in Tatum. But again, a tough pill swallow against a very strong & powerful Dutch side with the loss by 6-2. 

Marjin Veen is such a goal scoring machine where a mistake of two or a missed scoring opportunity from the opposition would give her the benefit to ruin them in return following her first International career hat-trick. She’s got a great eye right in front of goal every time the ball was given to her where Veen wanted it so badly from her own numbers in the final third attack before she has the licence to thrill to finish it off past the keeper with credit to their possession. There’s another goal Dutch scoring machine in the middle of the park of Yibbi Jansen, especially when it comes to penalty corners off the back from Hockeyroos’ ill-discipline with two goals to her name where she struck really well like a rocket. She too would’ve liked to get a hat-trick herself but Jansen will ensure that the Dutch will keep on firing with lots of goal scoring chances for the team including some for herself on top of the benchmark with 11 goals this season. And finally, so sorry to the Hockeyroos where they defended hard against the No.1 team but some missed finishing chances also turned the favour to the Dutch after the huge loss. Hats off to Steph Kershaw up front having gave two goals to the Stewart’s – one for Tatum via the penalty corner & another for Grace later on when she found some space through the channels. It’s just not her day where things could’ve been better if her team successfully converted all chances into goals that would the Hockeyroos a fighting chance v the Dutch, but again they are a team that is unstoppable & it’s up to them to respond before coming back with confidence next time around.

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From a 3-0 loss at a start to now back-to-back 3-0 wins, the Hockeyroos were on fire two days ago v India ahead of a huge showdown later tonight v the No.1 ranked Netherlands side. It might have been a quiet first quarter but they too have opened the scoring account with two goals ahead of half-time thanks to Grace Stewart & Tatum Stewart. Although things were quiet again in the 3rd quarter while they hold a 2-0 advantage before Kaitlin Nobbs completed her attacking masterclass that sealed the Hockeyroos’ 2nd win this week towards the end 3-0.

As said, hats off to Kaitlin Nobbs who has been a huge menace for the Indian defenders with her excellent attacking performance of two assists to the Stewart’s followed by that 1 v 1 counter-attacking finish herself off the left side pitch. She always made sure that the communication is there with her numbers before all systems can go to finish it off the work for her either way. Meanwhile, Grace Stewart has scored once again where she’s been an excellent threat upfront with credit from the service being given in the final third. So much pace and physicality alongside a great height on offer every time she appears up close off the net as she can do anything & everything that is right in front of her.

And considerations to India there with the loss at home, having won possession earlier on with some opportunities here & there. But unfortunately, the executions was vague while the defense was wide open & vulnerable that made it so easy for the Hockeyroos to get the job done at their own territory. They lost two goals in the lead up towards half time before it was too late after India struggled to find the net all along with the loss 3-0.

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Good to see the Hockeyroos women’s team turn around yesterday from a 3-0 loss the other day v China to a 3-0 win v the USA. It was a brilliant team effort all around where they scored the first two goals by Tatum Stewart & Stephanie Akers has in the lead up towards half-time before they added one more goal thanks to a brilliant tap-in finish right into the net from Grace Stewart to make it 3-0. So what a relief that is as they are 4th in the standings right now ahead of their next match v India at midnight tomorrow morning. For the Americans, it’s been a tough start for them having been beaten so hard by the Netherlands 7-0 followed by another loss against the Hockeyroos. They will haven’t scored any goals yet ahead of another tough series of challenges going forward with China at the same time tomorrow as well as India on Friday.

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New year, new tournament with a fast twist of Field Hockey called the FIH Hockey5 World Cup being rolled out for the first time nearly two weeks ago in Muscat, Oman. The pitch size has also been reduced from its normal layout where you only can have five players each on the field including four substitutes on the bench; So does the time as well that will last up to 30 minutes with two 15-minute halves & a short two-minute break in between. Yes, our Aussie Men’s & Women’s teams may have performed below expectations as hoped for when it comes to a shot in the medal Playoff rounds other than the consolation win v Zambia in the Women’s tournament. However, they did okay with some mixed results in the classification round before both Aussie teams wrapped up their respective campaigns on a high following their 11th playoff wins v New Zealand (men) & Fiji (women). Meanwhile, both men’s and women’s winners belongs to the Netherlands who were outstanding all along to take home their respective gold medals for Hockey5’s first ever World Cup tournament. In the women, the Netherlands defeated India very comfortably before it even ended towards full-time 7-2. Then few days later for the men’s, although they were equalised by Malaysia at 1-1 after opening the account first earlier on; but they didn’t stop attacking though having stretched their winning lead before the men stood up tall like their country’s female team in the gold medal final 5-2. What a week it has been where one country has won it all by the team in Orange named the Netherlands.

Now it’s back to regular match hockey with the FIH Pro League in full swing again after the Christmas and New Year’s period where the Hockeyroos (women) lost to China 3-0 yesterday to start their new season campaign while the Men Kookaburra’s first game of the year will come this Sunday 11 pm AEDT v Spain as all of this month’s series of matches are held in India.

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The swimming pool leg may be only a week away on what is going to be another Swimming World Championships edition in Doha, Qatar with just six months out from the Summer Olympics in Paris, France as there has been a number of postponements in the last few years including Australia’s outstanding campaign half a year ago during the last World Champs in Fukuoka, Japan, due to COVID. But yesterday we saw such a thrilling end to the women’s 10km Open Water Swimming race Final where a few frontrunners were vying side-by-side for that one and only gold medal including two of our Aussies such as Moesha Johnson and Maddy Gough. The gold has ultimately went to Sharon Van Rouwendaal though from the Netherlands who defeated Spaniard Maria De Valdes by just 0.001 of a sec at the finish line, but Johnson swam really well & was oh so close too despite falling just outside the medal spots to Angelica Andre from Portugal by just 0.002 & 0.004 off Van Rouwendaal in 4th. Now Gough just couldn’t hold on a bit longer down as she would’ve liked that would give us the best chance down in 18th but great seeing her working together and backing up her team-mate Johnson out of a 70-odd field which wasn’t easy. Well done to both as it’s the men’s turn later today from 5.30pm AEDT before the race distance will be halved by 5km going into Tuesday for the Men’s and Wednesday for the Women’s respectively. Let’s hope we can see an odd Aussie medal there or even a gold one better by Chelsea Gubecka in the 5km race after she finished silver at the previous WC.

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