Event: 200m freestyle, 400m freestyle
Olympic History: Tokyo 2020 (bronze)
Club: St Peters Western
Year Born: 2000
State Born: QLD
Elijah broke through for the first individual international gold of his swimming career when he won the 400m freestyle at the 2022 Budapest world championships in a time (3min.41.22) seconds which ranked him fifth fastest in history. That time ranks him only 1.14sec behind Ian Thorpe’s best which should stand as the world record for the event save for the synthetic swim suit-assisted 3.40.07 set by Paul Biedermann of Germany at the hotly-disputed 2009 world titles in Rome.
The time did not come out of nowhere. Elijah had set the fastest time in the world in the 400m freestyle at the 2020 Tokyo Games but, in his first Olympics he failed to reach the podium.
Still, once he had made his breakthrough, it made all the difference as he went on to win the 400m freestyle at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games (3.43.06), beating fellow Australians Sam Short (3.45.07) and 2016 Rio gold medallist Mack Horton (3.46.49).
There were a further two relay golds for Winnington in Birmingham as he helped Australia defend the 4x200m freestyle relay gold he had contributed to on the Gold Coast four years earlier, while he also was a member of Australia’s triumphant 4x100m freestyle relay side. He also came away from the meet with a bronze (1.45.62) after just being touched out in the final of the 200m freestyle by Scotland’s Duncan Scott (1.45.02) and England’s Tom Dean (1.45.41).
Throughout his junior years, Elijah Winnington trained at Bond University swimming club under coach Richard Scarce. The Gold Coast native earned 26 National Age Championship gold medals by age 18, and quickly progressed to star at the international level.
Elijah was named captain of the 2016 Junior Australian Team, winning gold and silver in his first Junior International. He went onto compete at the 2017 World Junior Championships, where he earned bronze in the 200m freestyle, 4x100m freestyle and 4x100m medley relay.
2018 was as a defining year for Elijah, after registering two Junior World Records, the then 17-year-old was selected for his first senior Dolphins team at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
As a member of the 4x200m freestyle relay team, Elijah won gold and recorded a new Commonwealth Record in front of an adoring home crowd.
At the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, Elijah placed 10th in the Men’s 400m freestyle and 12th in the 200m freestyle.
The following year he secured his first Australian National Championship in the 400m freestyle with a personal best time of 3:44.68. He retained this title at the 2021 Australian National Championships, winning the event in 3:45.69.
Currently training under Dean Boxall at St Peters Western, Elijah dominated the men’s 400m freestyle in a time of 3:42.65 at the 2021 Australian Olympic trials. The 21-year-old followed this up with a second place finish in the 200m freestyle clocking 1:45.55.