Olympic champion Tom Dean is determined to not rest on his laurels at the Commonwealth Games after a stunning summer in Tokyo.
The Maidenhead swimming star excelled on Olympic debut, pipping British rival Duncan Scott to gold in the 200m freestyle and taking the 4x200m relay title alongside Scott, James Guy and Matt Richards.
With the biggest title in his sport already secured, Dean now wants to add further global titles to his collection, particularly in front of a home crowd in Birmingham.
“Obviously reaching the pinnacle of the sport when you’re 21 years old is slightly earlier than I was expecting,” he said.
“Winning an individual Olympic gold was a dream come true and I think a long break after the summer was what I needed to re-evaluate.
"I’ve had a lot of meetings with my coach and he’s just reminded how exciting of a starting point this is. This is the start of the journey.
“We’ve shot right to the top and now it’s about getting all the other titles I haven’t got yet. It’s about winning the Commonwealth Games, and being World Champion.
It’s about retaining these titles and showing longevity in the sport.”
Dean is one of more than 1,100 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 technology, science and medical support.
With no fans in Tokyo last summer, the 21-year-old is relishing the opportunity to compete in front of a bumper crowd at the newly-opened Sandwell Aquatics Centre.
Having secured his place on the Team England squad, Dean is looking to capitalise on the once in a lifetime opportunity for medal success in his home country.
Dean said: “I was fortunate enough to race in front of a home crowd in 2018 in Glasgow at the European Championships, my first senior team.
I think racing in front of a home crowd is a level above everything else you can imagine. “We’ve been starved of crowds for two years now so to get back to not only racing in front of a crowd but racing in front of a home crowd, I think it’s so exciting.
“To be able to achieve the best possible result I could ask for in Tokyo in a stadium one percent of the capacity it should have been, I remember standing on the podium and it was just the swimmers and teams.
My family weren’t there, my friends weren’t there and the supporters weren’t there as well.
“To get back, have my family and friends there in England, racing against every Commonwealth nation, I can’t wait to get out there and I think it’s going to give a real boost to the athletes.
“The athletes respond well to crowds - it’s going to be really exciting to get out there.”
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