‘Double Olympic champion sounds pretty good’ – Tom Dean savours historic success

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Tom Dean savoured the feeling of becoming the first British male swimmer to win two gold medals at a single Olympics in 113 years following a “whirlwind” past 24 hours at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

A day after the 21-year-old won the men’s 200 metres freestyle final in a famous one-two alongside Duncan Scott, the pair were joined by Dean’s training partner James Guy and teenager Matthew Richards for the relay event.

Six months ago, Dean was ill with Covid-19, ruling him out of training for seven weeks, but he now has two golds at these Games after Britain cruised to victory by more than three seconds ahead of the Russian Olympic Committee.

The men's 4x200 metres freestyle relay team won gold for Team GB (Joe Giddens/PA)
The men’s 4×200 metres freestyle relay team won gold for Team GB (Joe Giddens/PA)

“It feels pretty special,” he said. “Double Olympic champion sounds pretty good. The last 24 hours have been unreal, a complete whirlwind.

“This was our best, best, best case scenario. The way Jimmy and I have been training in Bath and the times he’s been dropping, I’ve never had a shadow of doubt in my mind and it came together like we knew it would.

“The 4×200 free has been getting stronger and stronger. I know it looks like we have burst onto the scene and won the Olympics, but this has been years in the making. We are only going to get stronger and stronger.”

Dean’s time turned out to be the slowest of the quartet but Britain still sat third and, after Guy and 18-year-old Richards helped Britain into a one-second lead, Scott put in a sensational split of one minute 43.45 seconds.

A time of 6mins 58.58secs set a new European benchmark and was just three hundredths of a second behind the world record still held by a Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte inspired United States 12 years ago.

Tom Dean, right, and Duncan Scott had a historic one-two finish in the men's 200m freestyle on Tuesday (Adam Davy/PA)
Tom Dean, right, and Duncan Scott had a historic one-two finish in the men’s 200m freestyle final on Tuesday (Adam Davy/PA)

While Britain celebrated their third swimming gold at a Games for the first time since 1908, Scott, now an Olympic champion having previously claimed three silvers, was a little deflated about not snatching the world record.

“I’d say I’m still a little bit gutted with it, there’s not many occasions you’re going to be 0.03 off the world record – I don’t even know what that is, put my arm down one stroke earlier or something,” he said.

“But that’s just being picky, I’m just delighted with it, more with relief than anything because we knew we had a good team. I’m just buzzing with it.”

It was a special day for Guy, who won two relay silvers at Rio 2016 and finished fourth in the individual 200m freestyle event there. Having finally scaled the mountain, he was in tears by the time Scott touched the wall here.

“It’s a dream come true,” said Guy, who was crying in the stands the day before after watching training partner Dean become Britain’s first Olympic male champion in an individual freestyle event in more than a century.

James Guy celebrated a
James Guy celebrated a “dream come true” after he won Olympic gold for the first time (Adam Davy/PA)

“Being a young lad I was dreaming of Olympic gold, that’s all I’ve ever wanted in my life is to get that and now I’ve done it. It just shows if you’ve got a plan, you work hard, when you believe in yourself it can happen.

“All the early mornings, all the years of getting up at 10 past four, we’re here and it’s finally nice to do it.”

There are further opportunities for Duncan and Guy to win more medals as the week progresses, with the former ending his day by qualifying for Thursday’s semi-finals of the men’s 200m individual medley.

Richards – preferred in the final to Calum Jarvis, who helped Britain reach Wednesday’s showpiece and will still receive a gold medal – revelled in his achievement.

“It’s an honour to have this hanging round my neck,” said the teenager. “Forever now, this will be something that I can say I was part of and it will be something I can tell my kids and hopefully my grandkids about one day.

“But for me I’ve got some big goals, I’ve got a lot of things that I want to achieve in my swimming career and as far as I’m concerned this is just the very beginning.”

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