Australia

Tributes flow after former Australian swimmer Kenneth To dies

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Former Australian swimmer Kenneth To has died at the age of 26.

Australian world silver medal-winning swimmer Kenneth To has died after falling ill in a locker room during training in Florida.

The 26-year-old was born in Hong Kong, but moved to Sydney at the age of two.

His death has prompted an outpouring of tributes from fellow swimmers

Australian Olympic medallist James Magnussen said the swimmer "won’t be forgotten".

“We’ve been racing each other and making teams together since we were 16,” he posted on Instagram.

“He will remain one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever stood on the blocks next to. I firmly believe that for a long period he was pound for pound the best swimmer in the world.”

Chinese Olympic swimmer Sun Yang also shared a message on Chinese social media site, Weibo.

“Your love and passion for swimming will always be in our hearts. Thank you for everything you’ve given to swimming,” he wrote.

Kenneth To has been remembered by his teammates.
Kenneth To has been remembered by his teammates.
Getty Images AsiaPac

In 2010, at the Youth Olympics in Singapore, To won six medals.

In 2013, he won a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Barcelona in the 400m relay race.

A year later, he was part of the Australian Commonwealth Games team.

In 2016, To transferred his nationality to Hong Kong – where he had been born - and the team had high hopes for what he could achieve with them.

“He was an easy-going boy, and blended well with the team since his return to Hong Kong,” Ronnie Wong Man-chiu, the president of the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association said.

“He was our biggest hope of qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the men’s event.”

The Hong Kong Sports Institute said it was  “deeply shocked and saddened” by the young athlete's death.

“Kenneth was an outstanding elite athlete… He was extremely popular and loved by his teammates and competitors," it said in a statement.

Just days ago, To shared an image on Twitter, where he appeared to be in good health and enjoying his time in Florida.

To had been in Florida for a training camp, in preparation for the Olympics.

The cause of his death is still unclear.

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