FIFTH PLACE: Taylor McKeown was unable to take her semi-final form into the final at Rio.
FIFTH PLACE: Taylor McKeown was unable to take her semi-final form into the final at Rio. PATRICK B. KRAEMER/aap

Nerves got better of her at Rio but Taylor could fire at Tokyo

SWIMMING: Sunshine Coast's Taylor McKeown has signalled her intentions to compete at Tokyo 2020 after nerves got the better of her at the Rio Olympics on Friday.

The 21-year-old went into the women's 200m breaststroke decider as the equal favourite, alongside Japan's Rie Kaneto, after posting the fastest time in the semi-finals.

But things went pear shaped on the big stage for the Games debutant.

She started strongly enough but faded to finish fifth in 2min22.43sec.

McKeown was about a second slower than her semi-final time, about a second slower than her personal best time and was more than two seconds behind the winner, Kaneto.

"A little bit disappointing that my first Olympics hasn't gone to plan,” she said.

"Hopefully I can take this away and come back ... better prepared.

"Who knows, maybe Tokyo 2020 is my calling, not Rio.”

She's still in with a medal chance in Brazil, in the women's 4x100m medley relay which gets underway with heats on Saturday before the final on Sunday.

But it was the individual event which she had really focused on.

McKeown also missed the final at the world championships last year but went into Rio ranked third in the world.

Immediately after the race she told the 7 Network she had been rattled.

"I probably panicked a little but in that race,” she said. "I was a little bit nervous, being my first Olympic final and everything.

"I put in the effort but could have had a better race. I could have stayed more controlled. But it's a learning mistake and hopefully I can learn from that for the next one.”

McKeown will take heart from her semi-finals performance.

"I was stoked with my semi-final swim because of how I relaxed I stayed. (But) I let the nerves get the better of me (in the final).

"I had talked to my sports psychologist and tried to be as chilled out as I could. It is what it is. I'm not too happy with that result considering it was over a second over my PB but I'll learn from that.”

McKeown burst on to the scene as a teenager at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, where she won gold in the 200m breaststroke.

She hails from Bellmere but early last year she linked with the University of Sunshine Coast's high performance program, alongside the likes of coach Chris Mooney and fellow Rio Olympians Leah Neale and Jake Packard.

Packard is set to compete in the men's 4x100m medley relay on Saturday, with the final on Sunday, after he missed the final of the 100m breaststroke on day one of the Games.

Neale won a silver medal as part of the 4x200m freestle relay team.