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EXCLUSIVE: Emma McKeon admits she’d never have won Olympic gold without the support of her beloved family

“I wouldn't be where I am today without them.”
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There’s something very special about Australia’s Emma McKeon.

With a sporting pedigree hard to top and at just 27 years of age, our newly crowned “best ever” Olympian with a career medal haul of 11 – including five gold – still can’t believe she did it!

Back on home soil and enjoying plenty of sleep-ins, Emma is looking forward to one thing in particular – her mum’s famous lamb roast.

Emma McKeon made Australia proud at the Tokyo Olympic games, racking up several medals.

(Credit: Getty)

“I live and train on the Gold Coast, but I can’t wait to get to my home town of Wollongong and back with my family – I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”

“And yes, Mum’s roast is the best,” Emma tells Woman’s Day from Darwin’s Howard Springs, where she’s quarantining with the rest of the Australian swim team.

Family is everything to Emma, and from the very beginning she was born to swim.

Dad Ron, brother David and uncle Rob Woodhouse were notable Olympic swimmers, while mum Susie competed at the Commonwealth Games.

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“I could swim before I could walk. Mum and Dad had a swim school, so it was hard not to be a water baby.

“As a kid, I preferred playing in the water rather than training!” Emma says cheekily.

But it’s the youngest in the McKeon clan, little sister Kaitlin, who is most excited to have her superstar sister home.

“I’m so proud of Emma! I’m three years younger and she’s always had my back – I can’t wait to give her a hug,” says Kaitlin.

“We go to the beach and hang out, but most of all we love our summer house up on Lake Conjola – it’s our family’s happy place.”

Emma’s younger sister Kaitlin can’t wait to have her Olympian sister home.

(Credit: Supplied)

For dad Ron, he can barely wipe the smile off his face in the afterglow of Tokyo.

“She’s a wonderful role model for budding athletes, and I think it’s her no-nonsense approach that makes her shine,” he says.

Mum Susie agrees.

“Emma has always played with a straight bat – she doesn’t mess around, and she just gets the job done.”

Older brother David has lovely childhood memories with his little sisters in the family’s backyard pool.

Emma with her parents, Susie and Ron, who couldn’t be more proud.

(Credit: Supplied)

“I used to beat her – but maybe not anymore. Her times these days are better than dad’s at the height of his career!”

Emma’s Tokyo Games was nothing short of perfect, a remarkable campaign executed from a gloriously humble champion who manages to always look a picture of calm.

Bagging seven medals in total to add to her Rio collection of four, there’s no telling what the future holds.

And when it finally does sink in that the little girl who dared to dream is now the greatest medal winner in Australian Olympic history, sharing the podium with the likes of legendary swimmers Dawn Fraser, Ian Thorpe and Leisel Jones, only then will she understand the enormity of what she’s achieved.

Who would’ve thought this little Aussie would go on to achieve such greatness?

(Credit: Getty)

Back in Howard Springs, and Emma is non-committal whether that sees her in the green and gold for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“At the moment I’m just focused on the now and being proud of what I’ve done,” she says.

She plans to be back on pool deck soon with her supercoach Michael Bohl, who trains the champion out of Griffith University on the Gold Coast.

“Bohly believed in me, and has put so much hard work into my swimming – but he always puts me as a person first ahead of anything,” says Emma.

And with that, Australia’s greatest ever Olympian is off to get some well-deserved sleep, and to dream big for what comes next – whatever that may be.

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