Titmus out to restore Tassie pride
ARIARNE Titmus is determined to put Tassie back on the map, 36 years after the insult dealt Tasmania when the state was erased from the last Commonwealth Games opening ceremony held in Queensland.
The 17-year-old swimmer tipped to be the breakout star when the pool action ignites on Thursday has almost comically been caught in a warm-hearted interstate tug of war.
Broadcaster Channel Seven called her an "ex-Tasmanian" when she won her first gold at the recent trials, local media is riding the bandwagon with "Queensland's Arnie" and she has never been anything but Launceston's own in the parochial Apple Isle.
That her proud Tasmanian background is recognised at all is far better than the organisers could muster for the opening ceremony of the 1982 Commonwealth Games at Brisbane's then-QEII Stadium.
In centre field, when hundreds of kids formed a huge map of Australia with coloured cardboard squares above their heads poor Tasmania was forgotten or had rejoined the mainland for the first time in more than 10,000 years.
Then-Tasmanian Premier Robin Gray fumed, so it will be intriguing to see if any updated map representation returns Tasmania's island status at tonight's opening ceremony on the Gold Coast.
Titmus has embraced the support of her new home state since arriving in Queensland to train in 2015 yet you don't have to dig very deep to realise how proudly her Tasmanian heart beats.
Her TV fix, when training and sleep will allow, is My Kitchen Rules and who else would she follow but Tasmania's truffle-farming siblings Henry and Anna Terry.
"I suppose I'm a Queenslander now but I want to do it for Tassie as well because it's where I got my start and the people are so supportive," Titmus said.
"Even going back to my home town late last year for a junior Dolphins clinic, the people at the Launceston Aquatic Centre opened up the pool two hours early just so I could train solo with my coach.
"I don't get the time to watch MKR too much but when I do I'm going for the truffle farmers and to watch the drama rather than the cooking."
What drama awaits in the outdoor pool at Southport on the first finals' night tomorrow will certainly strongly feature the engaging teenager whose toughest medal race will be her first.
She is the meet's dominant distance swimmer on paper but shifts a gear to race top sprinters for the 200m freestyle gold, including defending Commonwealth Games champion Emma McKeon, who has sharpened since finishing second at the trials and putting a shoulder niggle behind her.
Titmus knows she has the training background if not the top-level racing experience over 200m to be in the hunt for the first of four possible gold medals at the Games.
"My coach Dean (Boxall) is probably hardest on me of any of his swimmers to do that bit extra and I like it," Titmus said.
"I want absolutely nothing left in the tank after a training session."
That's how the Tasmanian Queenslander in Aussie colours races as well. All out for gold.