Tom Dean felt an Olympic gold medal was a MILLION miles away after contracting coronavirus TWICE in a year… but 200m freestyle champion hails ‘single greatest achievement’ of his life after becoming latest Team GB swimming champion in Tokyo
Tom Dean admits he felt an Olympic gold medal was ‘a million miles away’ after contracting coronavirus twice over the past year.
The 21-year-old became the first British man to win an Olympic freestyle gold in 113 years in the 200m, with Duncan Scott winning the silver medal in a Team GB one-two.
Dean followed in Adam Peaty’s footsteps in the 100m breaststroke to win what was the fourth gold for Team GB at the Tokyo Games, and with Scott became the first British male swimmers since Henry Taylor and Thomas Sidney Battersby in 1908 to finish on the same Olympic podium.
Tom Dean felt Olympic gold medal was ‘a million miles away’ after contracting Covid-19 twice
Dean is the first British man since 1908 to win freestyle gold, while Duncan Scott (L) won silver
But Dean’s win came after some tough battles with Covid-19, the first coming in September last year before a second bout over the New Year period, but praised his coach for getting him back on track to compete in this summer’s Games.
‘I contracted Covid twice in the last 12 months, six or seven weeks out during an Olympic year which is essentially unheard of,’ Dean said after sealing an Olympic gold medal.
‘When I was sitting in flat during Olympic year, an Olympic gold seemed a million miles off. Here we are. My coach, David McNulty, brought me around.
‘The training we did has all come together. I had it in September and the New Year.
Dean contracted coronavirus in September last year and then again over the New Year period
‘First time was not too bad – second time i was really ill. It was quite severe. I did the full isolation period, i was not able to train and a slow build into full training.
Asked how having a gold medal around his neck felt, Dean added: ‘It’s the single greatest achievement in my life and its happened in last hour and a half, I’m lost for words slightly.’
Scott also praised Dean after finishing just 0.04 seconds behind his GB team-mate, stating: ‘Just a massive credit to Tom Dean, that was unbelievable. Olympic champion – he’s come along so far in the last 18 months, it’s a pleasure to watch.
‘It’s great to be able to say he’s a good mate out of the pool. It’s great being able to compete against him as well.
‘Obviously I’m delighted with that. For me massive credit to my coach Steve Tigg. I wouldn’t be standing here without him. The journey I’ve been on with him since I was about eight years old has been phenomenal. I’m just buzzing for Deano to be honest.’
Ther 21-year-old’s win in the freestyle was the fourth gold for Team GB at the Tokyo Games
Former GB swimmer Siobhan Marie O’Connor was even more effusive in her praise, calling Dean the ‘most talented swimmer’ she had ever seen.
‘I’m speechless and struggling to find the words,’ O’Connor tweeted.
‘Tom Dean is the most talented swimmer I have EVER seen. I always knew he would win Olympic Gold one day but after getting COVID twice this year, I thought it would be 2024. He is INCREDIBLE. So proud DEANO- OLYMPIC CHAMP.’
In the immediate aftermath of his victory, Dean described the race as a ‘dog fight’, adding: ‘I knew it was going to be a dog fight. I didn’t know how people were going to swim it. It was just race to race.
‘Thanks so much to everyone back home, my mum, my family, my girlfriend, all the boys back in Maidenhead, thank you for staying up.’