Dean Boxall believes a hungrier, more resilient Shayna Jack has no ceiling on her potential as she prepares for a long-awaited return to competition after being cleared in her marathon anti-doping fight.
After the lows of 2019, when she tested positive for ligandrol ahead of the FINA World Championships, Jack has been on top of the world since Thursday night when she was told an appeal against a reduction in her four-year doping ban had been dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
With her two-year sanction ending in July, Jack can now move forward without the weight of a potentially career-ending ban on her shoulders. Now she is out to prove to the swimming world – and herself – that she can fulfil the talent that made her a junior star and an athlete on the verge of making a serious mark at the highest level.
Boxall shot to global acclaim as the coach of Olympic champion Ariarne Titmus, with his wild celebrations making him something of a cult figure during the Tokyo Games. In the background, he has been a rock for Jack during her doping ordeal and had been overseeing her return to training at the St Peters Club in Brisbane’s west.
He said she was “elated” that she finally had some clarity and the torrid ordeal had hardened her resolve as a competitor. What used to be mountains, he said, now looked like molehills given the context of the past two years.
“It has finally come to an end,” Boxall said. “That’s two years and three months, it’s been brutal. But she’s come out the other side and she can start to head towards her first Australian trials.
“She’s hungrier, she’s a lot more determined. She’s thick-skinned, she has good body armour on her now. There were just so many delays but when I spoke with her yesterday [Thursday], it was a different girl at the end of the phone.”
Jack has been back in training since early May and it has been a steady start, while Boxall was fully focused on the Tokyo Games and his team of swimmers gearing up for the national trials that were held in June. Now he can turn his attention to Jack as she plots a path back to the green and gold, likely beginning with the Queensland titles in December.
What can she do in the water? Boxall isn’t sure but with sprint mainstays Cate and Bronte Campbell nearing the end of their careers, the time is right for the 22-year-old to find out.