Tommy Fleetwood celebrated a dream come true after being officially selected to represent Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics.
Fleetwood will join Paul Casey, Mel Reid and Jodi Ewart Shadoff in making his Olympic debut at Kasumigaseki Country Club, with the men’s event taking place from July 29-August 1 and the women’s from August 4-7.
Britain’s Justin Rose won gold in Rio in 2016 when golf returned to the Olympics after an absence of 112 years, but he and fellow men’s medallists Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar all failed to qualify five years on.
“Today I officially realise a dream,” Fleetwood wrote on Twitter. “To say it’s an honour to represent my nation at the Olympic Games is an understatement.
— Tommy Fleetwood (@TommyFleetwood1) July 6, 2021
“To have a chance to compete for an Olympic medal and to be among the very few special athletes whom can call themselves Olympians is almost every sports person’s dream.
“I’ve been inspired by the Olympics since I was a little kid so whatever else happens in my life, nothing will ever change the fact that Tommy Fleetwood will have been an Olympian and that is just very cool.”
Casey had made no secret of his desire to qualify for the Olympics, despite previously conceding that the coronavirus restrictions in place would make it a “hollowed-out experience” compared to other Games.
“I felt under pressure,” the 43-year-old said. “It was something I wanted to do five years ago and missed. I was desperate to make this team. For me it was the same kind of feelings I had trying to make other teams for the first time.
“I’ve got a small window of opportunity. I’m older than these guys and so I felt this was probably my last great opportunity to make an Olympic team.
Golf's first Olympic champion since 1904 ⛳
— Team GB (@TeamGB) July 6, 2021
“I’d love to go and watch the swimming and cycling and there’s probably not going to be the opportunity, but I don’t care. The chance to win a medal and represent Great Britain is why I’m going to be there and I couldn’t be more proud of that.”
Reid was the leading qualifier for Team GB, but Ewart Shadoff was only called up after both Charley Hull and first reserve Georgia Hall turned down a place.
“I first heard that Charley wasn’t going and then the next day I heard that Georgia wasn’t going and realised I was next on the list,” Ewart Shadoff said.
“I got a phone call asking if I would go and it was a bit of a no-brainer. I’ve always watched the Olympics growing up and having this opportunity to represent Team GB was an honour and it’s a proud moment for me.”
Reid said: “As somebody who grew up playing lots of sports, the Olympics is something that caught my eye and I never thought it would be an opportunity for me being a golfer and it’s also a great opportunity to grow the game.
“There will be a bunch of eyes watching the Olympics who have never even seen a golf tournament or heard of golf really before.”