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Jack sizzles in drug ban return, turns heat up on haters

by ZwemZa on December 13th, 2021

Jack dominated her heat to qualify second-fastest for the final in the 100m freestyle. Picture: Steve Pohlner

Shayna Jack is back.

Nine hundred and one days since the swimmer tested positive to a banned substance ahead of the world championships in 2019, she stepped behind the blocks in her first individual race at the Queensland state championships at the Brisbane Aquatic Centre on Monday morning and busted out a world-class time in the 100m freestyle.

Apprehensive at how she would be received in some circles after being accused of taking the banned substance ligandrol, Jack received the only round of applause of the morning after winning her heat in 54.58sec and immediately broke into a huge smile.

“It did take a long time to get here and I am really proud that I am here,” Jack said after the heat session.

“Getting those relays out of the way with my group (on Saturday) was a nice feeling to get back in the water but there were a lot of nerves coming in this morning knowing that it was my individual event and I would be standing behind those blocks alone.”

She need not have worried.

Swimming in the third seeded heat, Jack established a lead of a bodylength on the field halfway down the opening lap and won convincingly, touching the wall in 54.58sec to warm applause from the crowd.

She qualified second-fastest for Monday night’s final, behind Tokyo Games relay gold medallist and St Peters Western squadmate Mollie O’Callaghan (54.21).

“It’s so nice to know that people that I potentially haven’t met or don’t know even know, they’re so passionate about seeing me back and they’re really proud of me and that just gives me that boost of confidence again,” she said.

“I obviously did have fears that not everyone would be happy to see me back and that’s something I had to overcome.

“But finishing that race and having that applause, I couldn’t stop smiling.”

Jack tested positive to the banned substance ligandrol ahead of the world championships in 2019 and was initially banned for four years before an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) saw that halved in 2020 after it was determined she didn’t knowingly ingest the substance.

But her battle was not over until earlier this year, with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) appealing the decision.

CAS dismissed their appeal in September, leaving Jack free to resume her career.

“There were highs and lows,” she said.

“Coming in I didn’t know what to expect and that’s more from my own personal (journey), the pain’s still there, it’s still something that I have to deal with and working with psychologists moving forward.

“But all I wanted to do was come back and have fun and put a smile on my face.

“Come back and actually be happy and not feel like I’m putting on a mask that I’ve had to put on for the past two years.

“I’m feeling confident, feeling like I’ve had that weight lifted off my shoulders – truly had it lifted off my shoulders now that I can race again and it’s the best feeling in the world.”

Emma Greenwood | The Courier Mail

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