Packard should be in his prime for Tokyo 2020: coach
SWIMMING: The coach of Jake Packard has praised him for his resolve to bounce back from a tough 2017 and he expects the breaststroke specialist will be in his prime at Tokyo 2020.
The 23-year-old snared a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on Tuesday night, when he was part of Australia's 4x100m medley relay team.
Packard clocked a 51.36sec split to help the team edge England, to go with two fourth placings from 50m and 100m events.
And the University of the Sunshine Coast athlete is expected to get even better.
"I know he's on the (way) up. He's an athlete that is always looking for ways to get better," coach Chris Mooney said.
The Noosa product will be 26 by the time the Olympics roll around.
"Once up a time that might have been looked at as being a bit old but now we know more about sports science and physiological strengths," Mooney said. "We know that 22-26 is that peak age group and maturity wise, he's just a sponge, he knows where he needs to be and he's willing to come to work every day and to learn."
He said Packard should be well placed in Japan, after a strong hit-out against some of the globe's best swimmers at the Commonwealth Games.
"There was probably only about two or three world-class athletes who wouldn't have been at this meet," he said.
"This is one of those stepping stone goals to hopefully peak in Tokyo 2020."
Packard's Gold Coast experience was a world away from last year, when he was essentially struck down for months with salmonella poisoning.
He missed the national selection trials and a chance to swim at the world championships.
"(So) to get Jake from where he was 12 months ago...that was really pleasing," Mooney, who is also a national squad coach, said.
"To get on to get on top of that illness as quickly as he did is testament to our staff."
He lauded Packard's determination to battle his way back.
"The harder you work the luckier you seem to be and he works hard," Mooney said.
"And we're going to work a bit harder and hopefully we become a little bit luckier in 18 months time."
Packard was among a strong contingent of swimmers from the University of the Sunshine Coast that competed at the Gold Coast.