Event: 200m individual medley
Olympic History: London 2012, Rio 2016 (silver & bronze), Tokyo 2020
Highlights: Winning an Olympic silver medal in 2016 and Commonwealth Games gold in 2018
Year Born: 1993
State Born: QLD
Just how much swimming means to Mitch Larkin, and how much Mitch means to the Australian team was highlighted when he returned home after the Birmingham Commonwealth Games and was told needed immediate surgery if he ever hoped to live a normal life.
Astonishingly, the two-time Olympian had contested the Budapest world championships and the Commonwealth Games which followed while suffering from the pain of a four centimetre tear in his shoulder.
Mitch sustained the injury just days out from the selection trials for the two major meets but had proved that he could battle through it. And so it proved as he qualified for the 100m and 200m backstroke events in Budapest. But unlike 2015, when he emerged as world champion in both backstrokes at the Kazan world titles, this time he finished 13th and ninth in the 100m and 200m events respectively.
Mitch Larkin’s Olympic journey began at the 2009 Australian Youth Olympic Festival where he competed in five events, winning silver in the 400m individual medley.
At 19-years-old he qualified for his first Olympic Team in 2012, winning the 200m backstroke at the 2012 nomination trials. In his Olympic debut he made it through to the Olympic final where he finished eighth.
He competed at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona, the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2014 Pan Pacs on the Gold Coast, but it was 2015 where Larkin announced himself as one to watch, taking two world titles in Kazan in the 100 and 200m backstroke and was an almost unstoppable force on the world cup tour.
At his second Olympics in Rio, Mitch put in an incredible performance in the men’s 200m backstroke final to collect a silver medal. Larkin’s silver medal is the best ever result and only the third medal won by an Australian in this event at the Olympics.
Larkin also claimed a bronze in the 4x100m medley relay, leading off the quartet with Jake Packard, David Morgan and Kyle Chalmers. In the 100m backstroke he finished just outside of the medals, in fourth.
On Australian shores for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Larkin earned gold in the men’s 50m, 100m, and 200m backstroke, as well as the 200m individual medley and the men’s 4x100m medley relay.
After his impressive performance on the Gold Coast, Larkin continued to surge his personal medal count, winning gold and bronze at the 2019 World Championships.
At the 2021 Olympic Trials, Mitch decided to not compete in his hallmark event, the 200m backstroke, opting to focus solely on the 100m backstroke and 200m individual medley. The tough choice certainly paid off, as Mitch qualified for the Tokyo Games with a 53.40sec swim which set him up for a real crack at the Olympic final.
In the heats in Japan, he improved considerably on his trial time with a swim of 52.97sec and then in the semi-finals he raised the bar even further to 52.76sec, which sent him into the final ranked third-fastest.
But even though he had virtually matched his semis time – he clocked 52.79sec – he finished in seventh place.