AT just 17, Carine swim star Tamsin Cook was given the esteemed task of anchoring her country’s 4x200m freestyle silver medal performance this morning.
A sizeable feat for a teenager at her debut Olympic Games, coupled with the fact she would face off against the sublime brilliance of the United States’ Katie Ledecky in the race home for gold.
“To be honest, my first emotion was terrified,” Cook told media when asked how she reacted when she was informed she would anchor the Australian team.
“But I’m so happy for us that I was able to put together a good swim.”
Cook, in lane five, was not overawed by the occasion.
And most importantly, she was determined not to be distracted by Ledecky – the superstar in lane four next to her – as she plunged into the pool with Australia in the lead on the home stretch.
“I had to put the blinders on and stick to my race plan because if I try to go out with her, I’m sure there would have been a different result, so I’m really happy that I managed to do that and stay calm,” she said.
Despite Australia’s marginal head start, Ledecky was never going to be beaten.
But Cook’s effort to hold her nerve and comfortably fend off a challenge from fast-finishing Canadian Penny Oleksiak to claim silver had her Australian teammates noticeably proud of her as they greeted their young teammate at the wall.
The former Hillarys high school student’s swim of 1.56.47 was not the fastest for Australia, with that honour going to second-leg swimmer Emma McKeon whose outstanding 1.54.64 put her nation in the box seat.
Retiring fan favourite Bronte Barratt then added an impressive 1.55.81, which had Cook entering the water with Australia in the lead.
But Ledecky’s swim of 1.53.74, the fastest of the race, earned the United States the gold with a time of 7.43.03.
Queenslander Leah Neale was first in the pool for Australia finishing with 1.57.95.
Australia took silver at 7.44.87, with Canada bronze at 7.45.39.