Cate Campbell Fires Broadside At USA With “Sore Losers” Jibe After Broadcaster’s Bellyflop On Medals

2023-08-01 Reading Time: 4 minutes
Cate Campbell celebrates another podium finish as the Australian women's team win the meet at the Tokyo 2020ne Olympic Games - by Patrick B. Kraemer
Cate Campbell
Cate Campbell – Cate Campbell – by Marco Alpozzi / LaPresse

There’s more than a touch of tongue in cheek about the moment Cate Campbell took a swipe at the USA and labelled the Americans “sore losers” after the official U.S. broadcaster at the World Championships that ended in Fukuoka on Sunday evening listed overall medals as being more significant than the gold count the rest of the world places in column one.

American broadcasters have long tried to tell the rest of the world that gold is a secondary matter when it comes to measuring who wins a meet or match even though there are legions of silver and bronze medal winners in the USA who were lucky to get a mere mention in the place where the father of seven-times Olympic gold medal winner Mark Spitz’s told his son words to the effect of ‘you wither win or you’re a failure.”

The world has grown up a touch since the 1960s but make no mistake, the USA values the gold count and sets its heart and soul on winning with every passing race and day of every passing Olympics and World Championships in the pool. And let’s face it, it isn’t the silver or bronze medallist whose face appears on a cereal packet.

How USA present medal tables is normally neither here nor there, of course, because the swim team that boasts what may well be the biggest golden streak of any Olympic team in any sport going back to the beginning usually has more gold and ore medals overall that the rest – and sometime the rest put together.

But using column 1 for overall medals does look like a “sore losers” moment to many – and in Fukuoka in 2001 and again in 2023 at the championships just ended, the Australians were, unquestionably, the most successful team on podium count, with 13 victories to 7 for the USA, the other columns falling into place after that in long-standing tradition.

When Australia had 10 golds and the USA had 3, the picture to the right shows how Peacock, a subsidiary of Olympic broadcaster NBC, with swim greats Rowdy Gaines and Michael Phelps in the commentary box, showed the state of play to its viewers.

So, when Cate Campbell was invited on to Channel 9 Down Under to sum up her feelings about it in the wrap of Australia’s defeat of the USA on the medals table in Fukuoka, she went somewhat further that poking fun at the “sore losers” on gold count.

The U.S. broadcaster’s insistence on a policy that suggests they would be happy to show a nation with 9 bronzes as the No1 nation at a swim meet where the USA took 5 golds and no other medals brought out the worst of Star-Spangled Banner memories for Cate Campbell.

It’s worth noting that Cate Campbell bypassed the Fukuoka championships, as she trains on to make the Paris Olympics, can say what she wants because she’s not under any team agreement as an observer not a team member. Without further ado, here’s what she had to say, Rowdy Gaines’ response “can’t wait” for Paris 2024:

Cate Campbell Recalls Day 1:

“No ‘Star Spangled Banner’ … I cannot tell you how happy that made me.”

In words that highlight the backstage atmosphere at meets and how certain aspects of the USA’s zeal for victory irritates the hell out of others in hilarious ways, Cate Campbell, doing in the laughter with the presenters on the Today show, said in response to the American way of presenting the medals table contrary to how everyone presents it, including official organisers and regulators, such as World Aquatics in Fukuoka:

“Such sore losers. I mean Australia coming out on top of the world is one thing, but it is just so much sweeter beating America. The first night of competition, we did not have to hear ‘Star Spangled Banner’ ring out through the stadium.

“I cannot tell you how happy that made me. If I hear that song again it will be too soon. Bring on Paris. That’s all I have to say to the US. Stop being sore losers.”

Cate Campbell – photo courtesy of Arena

Known for her sprint freestyle speed – she’s got a sensational 57 sub-53sec 100m free swims to her name, Sarah Sjostrom closest on 38 – she also said she despised the patriotic cowbell rung by the American team in warm-up areas: “The US have this internal cowbell they ring. As someone leaves to go to the competition pool, they ring out, ‘USA, USA’. I have never wanted to punch someone more and steal the cowbell. I really hope someone did.”

Cue Aussie belly laughs.

The USA, with 7 golds and 38 medals overall, to 13 and 25 for Australia, was declared Team of the Championships without any explanation being given at the time that outcomes was revealed.

It’s calculated on points and measures depth of placings through the ranks not just the podium. What it does not seem to calculate for is that Australians took down 5 of the 10 World records set at the meet, Americans none.

Whatever measures and machinations were used or not to work out the team points, one thing is clear: Australia hammered home their supremacy over the United States in the Fukuoka pool 22 years after the last time Dolphins got the better of Eagles on gold count.

Cameron McEvoy, back on top of sprint freestyle speed for his first World 50m crown, hailed the dawn of a new era for the Dolphins. He said:

“I had heard a lot about the golden era, the early 2000s, the late 90s [Ian Thorpe, Grant Hackett, Michael Klim, Susie O’Neill, Leisel Jones, Petria Thomas et al]. I didn’t think I would be a part of a team that would replicate that so soon … all of a sudden, not only do we have a whole team doing really well, there’s a few people doing absolute insane times, at a young age too.”

Cameron McEvoy – Photo by Patrick B. Kraemer

Let the rivalry roll.

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