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Laurie Lawrence loved Boxall’s celebration and describes Titmus win as pure Olympic magic

Before dissecting the race itself, Lawrence addressed the celebration everyone is talking about.

“Imitators come and go,” Lawrence told the Herald, tongue in cheek. “Poor old Dean. He’s added the gyration movement, which I didn’t have. He got me there.

“I see passion in him. You spend more time with those younger athletes than they do with their parents. They drop them off at 5 o’clock in the morning. You care about them.”

Boxall apologised afterwards for his antics. A Japanese official did her best to get the proud Queenslander back in his assigned viewing zone but to little avail.

Ariarne Titmus and Dean Boxall embrace after the Australian’s memorable victory in the 400m freestyle final.

Ariarne Titmus and Dean Boxall embrace after the Australian’s memorable victory in the 400m freestyle final.Credit:Getty

In Seoul, Lawrence performed a celebratory dive into a warm-up pool, before getting into trouble with authorities.

“What are they going to do?” Lawrence said. “It was a bit silly … I should have taken my shoes off. I was walking around with soggy shoes for two days.”

Lawrence loves Boxall’s passion. He cannot overstate how impressive a feat it was for Titmus, in the space of five years with her trusted mentor, to devise a plan to overhaul one of the greatest swimmers of all time. Ledecky had never been beaten in an individual Olympic event.

Laurie Lawrence and Dean Boxall.

Laurie Lawrence and Dean Boxall.Credit:Glen Watson/Getty

Until Monday.

“Forget about his cheering and all that – that’s his personality and passion – it’s one of the great coaching achievements of the modern Olympics,” Lawrence said. “It’s the first time Ledecky has been beaten long-course since 2012. That’s nine years. She normally demolishes the field in the first 50 metres. The tactics that were played were just perfect.

Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky did battle in a memorable 400m freestyle final.

Ariarne Titmus and Katie Ledecky did battle in a memorable 400m freestyle final. Credit:Getty

“Titmus didn’t go away. She put pressure on Ledecky earlier and kept maintaining the pressure. Titmus hung in like a dog on the bone until the 200 turn. That’s where a lot of swimmers make or break it. The great swimmers destroy the field in that third 100. Ledecky goes and Titmus goes with her.

“Then it’s the end. It’s the last 100. It’s like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, head-to-head, punch for punch, until Ariarne triumphs at the end.

“She’s so mentally prepared and tough. You don’t get mentally tough in one day. You get mentally tough by disciplining your body, time after time after time. By hard repeats in training, by doing the unexpected.”

Lawrence is in his element, watching on from Australia. He hopes Titmus can make it a double gold in the 200m freestyle on Wednesday, and was particularly delighted to see Kaylee McKeown claim a maiden gold medal in the 100m backstroke.

Laurie Lawrence cheers from the stands in Beijing 2008.

Laurie Lawrence cheers from the stands in Beijing 2008. Credit:Dave Tease

McKeown is coached by Chris Mooney, who swam under Lawrence as a youngster and later worked for him while learning his trade.

“I’m very pleased,” Lawrence said. “Chris was one of my coaches in the early days. He swam for me as a kid at Chandler with Jon Sieben, [Duncan] Armstrong and [Tracey] Wickham.

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“I’ve got a big interest in the swimmers coached by these people, because they were either assistant coaches or swimmers with me in the early days.

“I’m loving every bit of it.”

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