Grace Harvey smashes season best to bag Commonwealth silver in Birmingham

·2-min read
Commonwealth Games - Swimming - Women's 100m Breaststroke SB6 - Final - Medal Ceremony - Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Birmingham, Britain - August 1, 2022 Silver medallist England's Grace Harvey celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov
Commonwealth Games - Swimming - Women's 100m Breaststroke SB6 - Final - Medal Ceremony - Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Birmingham, Britain - August 1, 2022 Silver medallist England's Grace Harvey celebrates on the podium during the medal ceremony REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

By James Toney in Birmingham

Grace Harvey was all smiles after banking a Commonwealth Games silver to match her Paralympic medal from last year in Tokyo.

Harvey smashed her season's best as England team-mate and Paralympic champion Maisie Summers-Newton dominated the SB6 100m breaststroke final to take gold.

But the 23-year-old swimmer, who is one of over 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, had no complaints with her time of 1:43.29, just a second slower than her performance last year in Japan.

And she then revealed her preparations had been far from smooth, with a third bout of Covid in 12 months just as training entered a crucial phase.

She said: “I wasn’t expecting anywhere near that time. I had Covid on our holding camp so I was thinking ‘what am I going to do?’. To come out there and do that time, I’m buzzing.

“I tested positive about two and a half weeks ago. It was frustrating as I wanted to be there with the team. The mental side, as well, what’s going to happen? When am I going to be in the water? But I’m really happy with the time so I don’t think it had a detrimental effect.

“I couldn’t train for several days, which is not what you want before racing. I worked really well with my coaches and talked to my parents to help with the mental side, which has paid off.

“I literally just had the sneezes, it’s my third time having it so I was quite happy it was mild. I had it the week after the Tokyo Paralympics and I was really ill for three months, it took me a long time to get back in the pool. It knocked me for six."

Harvey admitted she was inspired by watching best friend Alice Tai win gold just months after having her right leg amputated.

And she believed the crowd, with the Sandwell Aquatics Centre packed to the rafters each night of these Games, also played their part in her performance.

She added: “At Tokyo, you walked into the arena and thought ‘this is a theatre sport’. It was so upsetting there was nobody here. Here, you hear the crowd before you come out and it just gets you going.”

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