Emily Seebohm: 'I didn’t really think I’d be that good'

Emily Seebohm celebrates setting a world record of 27.95 seconds in the Women's 50m Backstroke final during the 2008 Australian Championships (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)
Emily Seebohm celebrates setting a world record of 27.95 seconds in the Women's 50m Backstroke final during the 2008 Australian Championships (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Ever wondered what your favourite sportspeople were like before they were super-mega-famous? Every week Tokyo 2020 will give you a glimpse into what life was like for some of the world’s greatest athletes before they were stars.

The deets

  • Name: Emily Seebohm
  • Age: 28
  • Nationality: Australian
  • Profession: Swimmer

What has she achieved?

Emily Seebohm is known as one of the greatest backstroke specialists in the world. She has won medals at all three Olympic Games she has participated in (Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016).

At Beijing 2008, she won gold in the 4x100m medley relay when she was only 15. While she didn't manage to qualify for the 200m event, she eventually made her way to the semi-final of the 100m, missing the final by only one place after finishing behind the French Olympic champion Laure Manaudou.

In London, she claimed gold in the 4x100m freestyle relay, as well as silver in the 4x100m medley relay and 100m backstroke.

During Rio, she once again won silver in the 4x100m medley relay, and finished seventh in the 100m backstroke final.

Surprising fact

At the age of 14, Seebohm was already being hailed as a future star of Australian swimming - something she was well aware of.

"It’s pretty cool to have people talking about you. I reckon I could be the next big wave in the pool and I hope to do that sometime. It doesn’t have to be Beijing, it could be London. It could be after that. It could be anything," she told the Olympic Channel.

Back then, she had already gained international racing experience, finishing fourth in the 2007 World Championships 100m backstroke in Melbourne.

"My coach probably told me that I could do it, but I didn’t really think I’d be that good. I was really happy with the time I did."

The full interview is below, along with quotes from her former coach Matt Brown in 2007.

What’s she up to now?

Seebohm is still competing at the age of 28, and has her sights firmly set on Tokyo 2020 where she'll be hoping to claim her first Olympic gold medal in an individual event.

She recently switched coaches in order to optimise her chances in Japan, after failing to make the cut in the qualifiers for the 2019 World World Aquatics Championships.

The move paid off at the FINA Swimming World Cup 2019 in Doha, where she won gold in the 200m backstroke, ahead of her young compatriot Kaylee McKeown. However, McKeown did beat Seebohm at the Australian World Trials before winning silver in Gwanju in the same event.

Emily Seebohm at age 14
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