Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

RIO REALITY SETS IN AT ST MARY'S; Warm College Welcome Primes Ipswich Swimmer for Olympics

Newspaper article The Queensland Times (Ipswich, Australia)

RIO REALITY SETS IN AT ST MARY'S; Warm College Welcome Primes Ipswich Swimmer for Olympics

Article excerpt

DAVID

LEMS

david.lems@qt.com.au

IT was a College welcome fit for a queen.

And that's how Olympics-bound Ipswich swimmer Leah Neale felt as she returned to familiar territory to inspire the next generation of young sportswomen.

Glowing with pride, Leah was happy to spend time with St Mary's College students yesterday.

She took a break from her Rio Olympic preparations to receive a special video produced by the College and for a presentation recognising her selection on the Australian Dolphins swimming team.

Leah became emotional on stage when her sister Sarah, a year 12 student at the College, stepped forward to complete the welcome with a hug.

That showed how much St Mary's College meant to Leah during five years at the school. It also highlighted how much the humble Ipswich achiever appreciates all the support on her Olympic quest.

As the international freestyle swimmer was welcomed to the stage, a St Mary's student shouted "Go Leah'' -- a clear sign she was inspiring future stars.

After mingling with students following the presentation, Leah stopped for a chat about the special moment at her former school.

"It was really good,'' Leah, 20, said.

"I haven't had that sort of thing before so I think that's why I got a bit teary up there (on stage).''

Leah has been selected to represent Australia in the 4x200m freestyle relay at the Rio Olympics, which are just weeks away.

She'll swim in the 100m, 200m and 400m freestyle events at the Rio Farewell competition at Chandler next weekend before heading overseas on July 13.

However, before completing her pre-Olympic training, the Ipswich born and bred talent enjoyed the wonderful occasion at St Mary's College.

Holding the flowers she received, she showed what other students in Ipswich could achieve with hard work and dedication. …

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