Olympic gold medallist and star swimmer Emma McKeon has added another accolade to her mantle: Young Australian of the Year 2024.
At the 2020 Summer Olympics, held in 2021 due to COVID-19, Ms McKeon became the first female swimmer and the second woman in history to win seven medals at a single Olympic Games.
She has also broken Commonwealth Games, Olympic and World records.
Ms McKeon is an eight-time world record holder, and has a total of 11 Olympic medals. She became the most successful Australian Olympian of all time at age 28.
She hoped to inspire other young people to pursue their dreams.
"I grew up being inspired by incredible athletes, which put a fire in my belly to go after my dreams and do something great with the power of determination and hard work," she said.
"I want young kids to know that I was once in the same position that they are now - hoping and dreaming of one day doing something big.
"Don't be afraid to take on hard things and set aspirational goals that, at times, might be scary. This is how we push ourselves to achieve our dreams."
Ms McKeon shared three things she had learnt in her impressive career.
Don't worry about the time it takes to achieve your dreams; be the best you can be, without worrying about what others are doing; and don't be afraid to have big dreams.
The 29-year-old has many other titles to her name. In 2022 she was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2023 she was named Gold Coast Young Australian of the Year.
Born and raised in Wollongong, Ms McKeon relocated to Brisbane in 2014 for her swimming career and now calls the Gold Coast home.
Australian swimmers at the Olympics always face lots of pressure and attention during competition.
But Ms McKeon told ACM "most of the pressure I have experienced is from myself".
"When you are in a sport where things are won by .01 of a second you really have to be a bit of a perfectionist. And even though we're striving for perfection, it doesn't exist," she said.
"If you put everything you can into trying to achieve that goal, to prepare and to work really hard at it, I think that's what success is."
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