Three more medals for back of closet

Erika Fairweather. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Erika Fairweather. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Erika Fairweather has had the past week to get used to the idea of being a world champion.

She knows exactly where her trifecta of medals will be going when she gets home, but getting them from Doha to Dunedin remains her biggest conundrum.

Her world championship medals, which by all accounts are massive compared to others, have been packaged nicely in a big box and covered in glass, which has added to the already weighty prize.

It made Fairweather concerned that airport security would confiscate them from her carry-on and she was considering putting them in her luggage instead.

"They’re so giant, and so weighty, that I just think they’ll be considered weapons," Fairweather joked from Doha yesterday.

"I just don’t want it to get stuck here."

No matter where she stores them, Fairweather’s gold, silver and bronze medals will make it home safely in the coming days.

But instead of showing them off to the world, they will take up a slightly different space in her home.

"I’m kind of embarrassed to say it, to be completely honest, but I put all my medals in the back of a closet and I don’t look at them," Fairweather said.

"I know that sounds absolutely out the gate. It’s just something I’ve always done.

"I don’t like having them on display. I don’t know why. I love to have the moment and look at them while they’re here ... but when I get home, I just kind of put them away, which is terrible."

It has been a massive and challenging week for Fairweather.

She started with a "hiss and a bang" on the opening night of the world championships, where she won gold in the women’s 400m freestyle with a personal best and New Zealand record of 3min 59.44sec.

"You can’t really ask for more than that on the first night."

Knowing she had to back it up in her other events, Fairweather pulled it off after winning silver in the 200m freestyle in 1min 55.77sec and bronze in the 800m freestyle in 8min 22.26sec.

She also set a national record, alongside Dunedin swimmer Caitlin Deans, Laticia Transom and Eve Thomas, in the 4x200m freestyle relay, finishing fifth in 7min 53.02sec.

"The schedule is just so full-on, but I’m sure proud of how I managed to turn it all around and get back up on the blocks and perform night after night," Fairweather said.

Many big names such as Ariarne Titmus, Katie Ledecky, Summer McIntosh and Mollie O’Callaghan sidestepped the world championships in preparation for the Paris Olympics later this year.

But that had not changed Fairweather’s mindset.

"One of the key things for me this week has been: it’s a world championships.

"It’s not about who shows up — it’s about how you show up.

"It’s a big arena. It’s not the end of the world if one, or two, people are missing. You know that could happen any day of the week.

"But I think, again, with the confidence booster, it’s just so good looking forward."

Things do not slow down for Fairweather, who qualified for the Olympics in all four of her events.

The world championships had been good loading practice before the pinnacle event and while she had carved her name at the world championships, her expectations for Paris remained the same.

"I know that some of my performances I put up this week won’t be enough in Paris, but I think that’s the exciting bit ... everything’s going to change.

"You don’t know who’s going to perform when or how they’re going to perform."

Asked to reflect on the fact two Kiwis were heading to the Olympics as world champions — Lewis Clareburt won the men’s 400m individual medley yesterday — Fairweather said it was "unheard of".

"How cool is that?" she laughed.

"We were up in the stands ... and we just couldn’t believe it.

"We’ve heard the national anthem play twice in a week — it was just unreal."

She was grateful for all the messages she received from near and far — "I haven’t quite got back to everyone yet, but it’s something I’m hoping to do over the next few days" — and looked forward to spending one last day in Doha before catching a 1am flight home.