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Duncan Scott took some pride in claiming his third medal at Tokyo 2020 after being initially disappointed at another agonising near-miss for individual Olympic gold this week.
He came into these Games with two silvers in his possession from Rio 2016 and he claimed a third on Tuesday after finishing runner-up to Tom Dean in the men’s 200 metres freestyle, with just 0.04 seconds separating the British duo.
Scott was able to call himself an Olympic champion after Great Britain prevailed in the relay event, but he found himself back in familiar territory on Friday despite a personal best time in the men’s 200m individual medley.
The Scot was sixth at halfway and fifth heading into the final length before upping the ante terrifically in his preferred freestyle leg to clock one minute and 55.28 seconds, but gold by 0.28secs went to China’s Wang Shun.
He seemed crestfallen at learning his fate, facing away from the scoreboard confirming Wang’s win, and he admitted as much before reflecting with a little satisfaction at finishing runner-up in a discipline he is still learning.
After for his reaction, he responded: “Not PG (parental guidance) words. I think initially I’m just really gutted. Obviously times at an Olympic final almost go out of the window for me.
“But I’ve had enough time to think about it a bit more and let it sink in, a massive PB again, I’ve dropped over a second and a half in this event this year, still learning it a lot.
“I can hold my head high. Just not enough again.”
Scott is the first British swimmer to win three medals at a Games since 1908. That was also the year when Britain claimed their best result in the pool with seven medals, but Scott’s result here took them to six.
There is the prospect of more to come, and Scott himself is still to compete in the men’s 4x100m medley relay, where another podium finish in Sunday’s final would see the 24-year-old become the first Briton to win four medals at a single Games.
Max Whitlock and Jason Kenny both won three medals five years ago, while Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Henry Taylor have also achieved that feat, but no British athlete has come away from the Games with a quartet of gongs.
“I need to try and put that to the back of my mind,” Scott added. “I’m obviously delighted with how things have gone so far with the relay boys the other morning and then my two individuals as well.
“I came here to stand on the podium individually, and I did my best times in the final so I can’t ask for much more. It’s not something I really think about, to be honest. I’ve got a job to do with the relay guys.”
One of his team-mates in the medley relay is likely to be Luke Greenbank, who earlier collected his first Olympic medal with bronze in the men’s 200m backstroke with a time of 1:54.72 in the final.
Greenbank – who finished 1.45s adrift of winner Evgeny Rylov of the Russian Olympic Committee, with Ryan Murphy of the United States taking silver – had an emotional hug with Scott when they crossed paths in the media mixed zone.
“Here he is,” Scott said as Greenbank approached. “With the shape Greenbank’s in, he’s unbelievable….the medley relay is looking great. I think endless credit should be awarded to Greenbank for what he’s done.”
Greenbank was fancied to finish in the medal positions after qualifying second fastest for the final and while he was overtaken by Murphy around the halfway stage he comfortably held on to third.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said. “I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet but I’m sure it will at some point. I’m just over the moon with that. The race was a really tough one but well executed, I’m so chuffed.
“To come here and swim close to my best and come away with a medal is a dream come true. It would be great to go faster every time I swim, but it doesn’t quite work like that. I’m over the moon.”
Molly Renshaw finished sixth and Abbie Wood seventh in the women’s 200m breaststroke final, where South Africa’s Tatjana Schoenmaker set a world record of time 2:18.95 to claim gold.
Australia’s Emma McKeon clocked an Olympic record time of 51.96 to win the women’s 100m freestyle final, while Britain’s Anna Hopkin placed seventh.