Cody Simpson’s Commonwealth Games campaign has taken a dramatic turn with revelations the pop star could be a major player in the Birmingham pool.
The 25-year-old’s journey from music artist to swimming star has captivated Australia this year since he qualified for the Commonwealth Games at the Australian Swimming Championships in May.
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After sneaking into the Dolphins’ team as the third-fastest swimmer in the 100m butterfly — his pet event — Simpson was expected to be a minor footnote in the gold rush the Aussie team is expected to deliver at the Commonwealth Games.
However, he is now facing the possibility of competing in four events and chasing four medals in the Sandwell Aquatic Centre pool.
Beginning on Friday night (AEST) in the men’s 50m butterfly heats, Simpson’s program has suddenly exploded.
Simpson was promoted to a spot in the 50m butterfly after teen sensation Isaac Cooper was axed for the Commonwealth Games as a result of wellbeing challenges, “including the use of medication”. Simpson was the fourth quickest swimmer at the national championships behind Kyle Chalmers, William Yang and Cooper.
It is in the relays that Simpson has his best chances of winning a medal.
The Daily Telegraph reports there has been a series of late entries in the men’s and mixed team relays, forcing the Commonwealth Games to expand the relays program to include heats that will allow more nations to compete.
It means Simpson is suddenly a very real option to swim the butterfly leg in the 4x100m men’s medley relay heats. He was the third fastest in the event at the national championships, but national champion Matt Temple and Chalmers are expected to be rested from the heats before swimming in the final.
Simpson is also being considered for a spot on the men’s 4x100m freestyle relay as a heats swimmer. He was the eighth quickest swimmer in the event at the national championships.
Simpson would receive any medal won by the Aussie relay teams in Birmingham even if he is dropped for the finals.
Australian head coach Rohan Taylor has indicated he wants to pick separate line-ups for the heats and finals in the relays in order to keep his athletes fresh.
His comments will be sweet music to Simpson’s ears.
“The medley relays will be picked on form so it goes down to where he finishes. We will have a heats team and a finals team so there’s an opportunity there for sure,” Taylor said, according to The Daily Telegraph.
“Cody has a really generous, humble personality, always smiling, always encouraging and supporting.
“He’s been fantastic, he’s fitted right in no problems. It’s been really enjoyable having him.”
Simpson has already been a walking headline this week since opening up about his relationship with Aussie superstar Emma McKeon.
McKeon was the star of the Australian Tokyo Olympic team, coming away with seven medals, including four golds. Adding her four medals from Rio, McKeon became the most decorated Olympian in Australian history with a tally of five golds, two silvers and four bronze.
The happy couple were profiled on Channel 7’s Spotlight on Sunday night, where they were happy to speak about their love life. Simpson — who said he “wooed” McKeon with his singing — admitted he had a crush on the 28-year-old for some time before acting on his feelings.
“You know, when you meet someone, you just recognise that there’s something there. I always saw her as this special person to me. Like overall, pretty inspiring human,” Simpson told Seven’s Denham Hitchcock.
“There’s something there that we didn’t obviously explore then.
“I always acknowledged that there was a connection that we had. But we didn’t act on it until what ended up being a year later.
“We talk every day about how happy we are and how lucky we are. I think we definitely appreciate it.
“Whenever I’m playing (music), she’ll just drop whatever she’s doing and watch and listen. She doesn’t have to do that, but I like that. You always pay attention. It’s nice.”