Dan Jervis looking forward to competing as 'true self' at Paris 2024

Dan Jervis will be competing at his second Olympic Games at Paris 2024

By Joe Harvey

Dan Jervis will dive into an Olympic pool for the second time this summer, but for the first time as his true self.

The 28-year-old came out as gay two years ago and admitted it was difficult to not be open about his sexuality at the last Games in Tokyo.

The 1500m freestyle specialist does not have anything to hide this time around heading into Paris 2024 and the Neath native revealed he is a new man because of it.

“I am literally a different person to what I was three years ago,” he said.

“I thought I was grown up three years ago and since then I have come out as openly gay, a lot of stuff has happened in my life, and I have grown so much as a person and as an athlete.

“I don’t think it affected my sport, but it affected me as a person. I remember in the last Olympics it was incredible, but inside I felt as if I was dying. I am an open person, quite an open book and I think it was hard.

“Not at all was I living a lie, just because you are not out doesn’t mean you are living a lie, but you can’t be your true self.

“I am very fortunate, I have got a fantastic family, I have got a fantastic partner that has helped me through it all and this sport has been one of the biggest supporters of me.

“My team back home, Team GB and GB Aquatics have been fantastic for me.”

Jervis is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing them to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – this is vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.

The past three years has also meant Jervis arrives in Paris with an older body but a wiser mind.

The 28-year-old admitted he has felt the full force of the truncated three-year cycle since Tokyo but is hopeful that having Games experience under his belt can work in his advantage.

“My body hurts,” he added. “I wake up in a morning and feel the training session from the day before.

“This time was harder as well because the last Olympics was during a pandemic and there was so much time off - I had four or six months out of the pool - that gave me a chance to step back and have a breather and reset myself to go into the Olympic year.

“This time I have gone from a hard year at the World Championships into an Olympic year, so there was no backstep.

“I am three years older, I have done it before, so I know what to expect.”

Whatever the outcome in Paris, Jervis is determined to enjoy the ride.

Qualification for the Games proved to Jervis that he could still compete after several disappointments, including the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and the 28-year-old celebrated by taking a camper van to Scotland.

Time away from the pool is more important than ever amidst a gruelling schedule, but he is determined to enjoy his time in it this summer.

“When I am away from the pool, I like to completely forget about it,” he said.

“I went from my race, got a camper van, and toured Scotland for a week. It was amazing. That gave me a chance to take a step back, take a breather and be like: I have done this.

“When I came back reality hit me like a brick wall. If I am honest, I really struggled with it.

“It was hard to get back into it because it was such a momentous occasion and then back to reality like that.

“Now I am trying to take it all in. You never know if you are going to get this opportunity again.”

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