Tokyo 2020: Sporting scholar Tom Dean is Olympic Champion after University of Bath swimmer wins stunning 200m freestyle gold
Mechanical Engineering student Dean, who is supported by a Bill Whiteley Sporting Scholarship, took a quarter of a second off his personal best to clock a new British record of 1:44.22 in an incredible 200m freestyle final and pip fellow Team GB star Duncan Scott to victory by four-hundredths of a second.
“It’s amazing, I couldn’t have asked for more,” said Dean. “To have two Brits on the podium and coming one and two shows dominance in this event and how far British Swimming and Team GB have come. I couldn’t have asked for any more, it’s amazing.
“I can’t thank my coach David McNulty enough for what he’s done. He said, ‘we’re writing an amazing story’. With the COVID situation, I had six or seven weeks out of the pool during an Olympic year. He brought me through it and here we are, and I can’t thank him enough for it – we couldn’t have had a better ending to the story.”
It is a first British one-two for Team GB on the Olympic swimming podium for more than a century and sees Dean join Steph Cook (modern pentathlon), Jason Gardener (athletics), Amy Williams and Lizzy Yarnold (both skeleton) in the ranks of athletes to be crowned as Olympic Champion while training at the Team Bath Sports Training Village.
He is also the first current Bath student to ever win gold at a Summer Olympic Games and becomes the fifth British Swimming National Centre Bath star coached by McNulty at the Team Bath Sports Training Village to win an Olympic medal, joining Michael Jamieson – who was also a Bath student – at London 2012 and Jazz Carlin, Siobhan-Marie O’Connor and Chris Walker-Hebborn from Rio 2016 in the roll of honour.
Ahead of his debut Games, Dean thanked the University of Bath for supporting him on his Olympic journey by allowing him to defer his Mechanical Engineering studies to concentrate fully on his Tokyo training.
“That backing from the University was a massive, massive help and continues to be,” said the 21-year-old. “I’m one of the sporting scholars here and knowing that support network is there, all the services that the University offers, has given me a great deal of confidence and allowed me to focus purely on becoming the best performer I can be.”
Dean returned to the pool nine hours later to line up another shot at Olympic glory as part of a GB men’s 4x200m freestyle quartet that also featured fellow Bath-based swimmers Matt Richards, James Guy and Sports Performance graduate Calum Jarvis. They were the fastest qualifiers in the heats to reach Wednesday’s final (4.26am BST).
Richards – who, like Jarvis, is coached by Jol Finck – pulled out of the individual 100m freestyle heats to concentrate on the relay.
Training partner Kieran Bird was sixth in his 800m freestyle heat in 7:57.53, while Freya Anderson was seventh in her 200m freestyle semi-final in 1:57.10.
“I didn’t have the race I wanted but then seeing Deano do what he did, I’m so happy for him,” she said. “I’ve never, ever seen him do a bad session – I can’t think of anyone who deserves it more.”