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By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
The battle of Britain will rage in Birmingham this evening as Team Scotland’s Duncan Scott and Team England’s Tom Dean goes head-to-head in the pool at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
More used to being British team-mates on the global stage – Dean and Scott will put friendship to one side as they battle for top step on the Commonwealth Games podium.
Scottish swimming legend Michael Jamieson believes the superstar swim pair have fast established themselves as the two best athletes “in the world.”
Dean and Scott will lock horns in the 200m freestyle at Birmingham 2022 and could potentially clash six times throughout the course of the Commonwealth Games.
While the fantastic duo is often dubbed as great rivals, they share a strong friendship, and Jamieson believes that their close relationship in and out of the pool makes for a particularly intriguing battle.
“It’s what you want to see from the Commonwealth Games, the best swimmers in the world, who are some of the best athletes in the world,” Jamieson explained.
“They know each other well and tactically they know each other well. They’re based at different programmes, Tom Dean swims with James Guy, who is another world class athlete in that event. They’re based in Bath with the same coach that I had throughout my career, Dave McNulty.
“Then Duncan's based in Stirling. So different coaches, but I think obviously, domestically, there's quite a few opportunities to compete against each other.
“Obviously, I’m wishing them both the best, but I’m supporting the Scotsman today! It will be a spectacle, I think, because you really do have the two best 200m freestylers in the world."
Dean pipped Scott to the top of the rostrum when the pair met at the Tokyo Olympics last year before they came together to help Team GB win gold in the 4x200m freestyle relay.
And Jamieson believes the pair’s emergence helped to re-energise the Team GB squad, resulting in a jump from sixth to third in the swimming medal stakes from Rio to Tokyo.
“They’re part of a real strong, close-knit team,” he said, speaking at the Commonwealth Pool, owned by Edinburgh Leisure, a facility which he knows well having won the second of his two Commonwealth medals there in 2014. Edinburgh Leisure has received £722k worth of National Lottery funding.
“After Rio 2016 there was a bit of a changing of the guard.
“Naturally, a lot of older athletes were kind of hanging on to try and compete. Now the team has been together, or most of the team has been together, from Rio through to present day, they’re super experienced now.”
Another fledging young talent who has already claimed a medal at these Games is 18-year-old Kate Shanahan, who’s precocious display earnt her a bronze in the women’s 400 individual medley on Friday.
Having emerged so quickly on the international scene, she was only 10 when teammate Ross Murdoch won gold at Glasgow 2014, she will no doubt have her heart set on a place at the Paris Olympics in two years’ time.
And according to Jamieson, the Commonwealth Games provides great preparation for athletes before competing on sport’s biggest stage.
“Born and bred in Glasgow, it was a huge Commonwealth Games moment for her to be on that podium,” he said.
“It’s an important steppingstone. It's obviously one of the only opportunities you get to represent your home nation. She's been super successful.
“The standard was high; it was a solid time. It’s a great event and obviously a real boost for Katie to kick off on day one with such a positive result.”
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