Next major goal for our golden girl
IPSWICH'S latest gold medal winner Leah Neale will continue training at the Commonwealth Games before a well deserved week off and setting her sights on the Tokyo Olympics.
But she was welcome to have a sleep-in at the Athletes Village this morning after her superb effort at the Gold Coast.
Her coach Chris Mooney was thrilled and glowing in praise for Neale's part in the Australian 4x200m relay team's success last night.
The Australians set a Games record after former St Mary's College student Neale kept the team in the lead during her third stage of the relay final.
"It's not easy what they do,'' Mooney said, after cheering on Neale from the coach's box at the Gold Coast pool.
"It's a tough one the third leg. Sometimes you've got a lead and you need to maintain it and other times you might need to set up that anchor leg.
"It's always a tricky one but she handled it very well.''
The University of Sunshine Coast Spartans head coach praised the dedication of 22-year-old Neale.
"I've had the chance to see her grow,'' Mooney said. "She's matured into a talented young lady that I'm proud to know her and be called her coach.
"To wake up every day and go to work and be surrounded by people like that, I find myself to be very lucky and she's a part of that.
"She's intelligent and she's had a good career and there's a little bit left in her yet, that's for sure.''
Neale's latest golden effort completed her set of medals at international level.
Having previously won a bronze at the 2017 world championships in Budapest and a silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the same event, Neale now has a golden reward.
"We talked about that last night,'' Mooney said. "It was something that was on our mind.
"She's a girl of very few words but the smile on her face last night said a lot.''
Neale also had to endure a swim-off in the morning to secure her place in the competitive Australian relay team.
Having worked with Neale for three years, Mooney said the former Silkstone State School student deserved everything she achieved. That was especially after such a late night when she didn't get in the warm down pool until after 11pm.
"She's earnt a sleep-in this morning,'' Mooney said, explaining what comes next.
"You're a member of the Australian team. Even though you mightn't have any individual races left, you stay race ready until the very last event in case you are needed.
"She'll still train and then when they leave the Village on Saturday, I'm giving her a week off just to mentally freshen up.''
He said her next goal was being ready for a benchmark meet in Tokyo in about 12 weeks. That's a first step towards the 2020 Olympics.
Last night, triple gold medal winner Emma McKeon led the Aussie team out in style before Brianna Throssell and Neale kept the Aussies in front.
Rising sensation Ariarne Titmus finished the job, surviving a Canadian challenge.
The Aussie team set a Games record of seven minutes, 48.04 seconds, ahead of Canada (7:49.66) and England (7:55.60).
Neale's super swim in the third leg was one minute, 58.23 seconds, 0.53 seconds faster than her sixth in the 200m freestyle final on Thursday night.