Gold medalist Cate Campbell during the medal ceremony. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Gold medalist Cate Campbell during the medal ceremony. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images Scott Barbour

Emotional Campbell breaks down after first gold since Rio

AN emotional Cate Campbell has broken down on the dais after winning her first major individual gold medal since her Rio meltdown.

Campbell put any doubt she was back as an international superstar to bed with an emphatic win in the 50m freestyle, touching the wall just 0.11 sec outside Swede Sarah Sjostrom's world record.

It seemed business as usual after Campbell had started her Games campaign by anchoring Australia to a world record in the freestyle relay on Thursday night with the fastest split in history.

But as she stood on the dais listening to the national anthem, with sister Bronte beside her wearing silver, Campbell's bottom lip started to quiver and a tear spilt from her eyes, giving an indication of the magnitude of her fightback from the dark days after the Rio Olympics.

"I didn't expect it to be so emotional to be honest," Campbell said.

"There was something about knowing the whole crowd would be singing the national anthem with me that got me all teary.

"So many people have supported me through the past two years.

"To be able to share this moment with the rest of Australia was something that was so special."

While Campbell starts her campaign in the blue riband 100m on Sunday, taking an individual win was a crucial step in her road back from Rio where she started the 100m as a white-hot favourite but faded to sixth after failing to cope with the pressure of the meet.

Campbell has embraced it on the Gold Coast though, riding the wave of support from the raucous crowd of 10,000 and using the expectation in her favour.

"I had goose bumps when the crowd started chanting: 'Aussie, Aussie, Aussie. Oi, Oi, Oi!'.

"That's what we thrive off and probably the thing I'll miss most when I retire," Campbell said of the pressure.

Bronte Campbell, who will take a break after these Games to rehabilitate chronic shoulder and hip injuries said she was pleased with her effort - and thrilled for Cate.

"She's doing amazingly well. It's great to see her come back and do so well and just keep smashing down barriers for herself," Bronte said.

"You always want to see people improve but when you really care about the person it's a little bit more special."