WA's latest Olympic qualifier Kyle Lee played a crucial role for the Australian team in the mixed 4x1500m relay at the World Aquatics Championships in Doha yesterday.
As the relay's anchor, Lee held a solid second position on the feet of Italian swimmer Domenico Acerenza. Until the final stretch, Lee pushed forward to Acerenza's hip and leapt to touch the pad ahead of him. The result was confirmed, and Australia won its first open water relay world title.
Lee's ability to seal tight races has earned him a reputation as one of the best in the sport. He is a fierce competitor in the water, but he remains a humble man outside of it. After the race, Lee said, "I knew I had to try and get on his (Domenico's) feet as soon as possible… if I lost his feet it would’ve been so hard to catch up."
"It was very tight but my team put me in the best possible position so I couldn’t ask any more of them… Coming into that finish line, I knew that Domenico was so strong throughout this competition so it wasn’t going to be easy... Just trying to stay calm really, it's so hectic in that finishing shoot... but yeah I guess I got lucky on the touch.”
This latest achievement comes after Lee made history as the first-ever marathon swimmer from Western Australia to qualify for the 10km Olympic event earlier in the week. His parents revealed that they were anxiously waiting for the results and were elated to see their son secure ninth position, making the Australian open water team set for Paris 2024.
“In the final 200m of Kyle's race we were on our feet pacing up and down trying to spot him,” said Kyle's parents as they watched him racing the 10km. “The energy in the room was very intense as the finish was like a yoyo - one minute we could see him and then the next minute he would disappear and to be honest most of the time we couldn't see him."
"We also knew that the field was filled with world-class swimmers who would all be sprinting to the finish to try and secure an Olympic position. There was so much on the line for everyone.”
“I think for Kyle to make the Australian Swim Team and represent Australia has been a memorable moment and milestone not just for him but our family too.”
Whilst competing on the world stage, Lee was also juggling his student life as he sat a two-hour accounting exam during the week.
Lee is flying back home to Perth tonight, where he will celebrate his significant achievements with family and friends who were eagerly watching his races throughout the competition.