British swimmer Tom Dean revealed he had to overcome Covid twice just to reach the Olympics and hailed the “single greatest achievement” of his life as he took a stunning 200m freestyle gold medal.
Dean led home a British one-two ahead of Tokyo roommate Duncan Scott on an historic morning for Team GB, who took gold and silver in the same swimming event for the first time since 1908.
While Dean was ranked among the fastest swimmers in the world this year, it was team-mate Scott who was considered the leading British hope going into the final, having beaten his team-mate at Trials earlier this year.
However, it was Dean who prevailed, winning by just 0.04 seconds as the pair stormed home over the last 50m.
The 21-year-old revealed that after the Games had been delayed by the pandemic, his preparations had been disrupted by not one but two bouts of coronavirus.
“I contracted Covid twice in the last 12 months, six or seven weeks out during an Olympic year, which is essentially unheard of,” he said.
“When I was sitting in flat during Olympic year, an Olympic gold seemed a million miles off. Here we are.
“I had it in September and the New Year. The first time was not too bad but the second time I was really ill. It was quite severe. I did the full isolation period, I wasn’t able to train.
“It was quite tough, tough to have a long time out of the water and obviously it requires a long build-up because of the nature of the disease, you can’t go straight into full training.
“It was tough - a bumpy ride.”