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Tokyo Olympics: Twice Covid-infected British swimmer Dean wins 200m freestyle gold

Reuters/Tokyo
Filed on July 27, 2021
Tom Dean of Britain (right) and Duncan Scott of Britain pose with their gold and silver medal.

(Reuters)

'The second time was much worse than the first'


Tom Dean contracted Covid-19 twice in the build-up to the Tokyo Olympics and he also won men's 200m freestyle gold at the double on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old Briton, who spent days in isolation and was unable to exercise earlier in the year, touched out 0.04 ahead of team mate Duncan Scott in his country's first men's one-two in the pool since 1908.

It was Britain's second men's gold in as many days after Adam Peaty retained his 100m breaststroke title on Monday.

"It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true having a gold around my neck," said Dean. "I contracted Covid twice in the last 12 months. Sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold was a million miles away."

The Briton first caught the virus last September, and then had a more serious dose early this year.

"The second time was much worse than the first," he told reporters. "I was quite ill for about 10 days and I served the whole isolation period and it's a slow build back up because of the nature of the sport we do and of the disease.

"You can't just go straight back into full-on training so it required a few weeks ... two or three months out of our Olympic trials and I'm stuck inside unable to even exercise.

"It was tough to wrap my head around that in an Olympic year.

"I think I was one of the first athletes in any British Olympic sport to contract Covid twice in such a short space of time ... and I'm thinking how am I going to be able to recover from this in time?"

Dean was fourth fastest in the semi-finals, with Scott leading the way, but found an extra gear in the final.

South Korea's Hwang Sun-woo got off to a flyer, inside world record pace, but Dean came through strongly in lane six to power from third to first on the final 50.

Scott was barely a fingertip behind, the pair finishing with the fastest ever British swims in the event, and the double relay silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Games hid his disappointment well.

"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," he said.

"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."





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