Brit swimmer Dean beats COVID twice to win gold at Olympics

Jul 26, 2021, 10:42 AM | Updated: Jul 27, 2021, 12:08 am

TOKYO (AP) — Britain’s Tom Dean contracted COVID-19 not once but twice in the run-up to the Olympics, leaving him doubting he’d make it to the national trials, never mind Tokyo.

He made it to both and much, much more, winning gold in the 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday and leading an historic 1-2 in swimming for Team GB as teammate Duncan Scott took silver.

“This is the single greatest achievement of my life,” Dean said.

It was also Britain’s first 1-2 finish in the pool at the Olympics in over 100 years, since the 1908 Games in London.

Dean wasn’t sure that kind of swim would be possible for him in January, when he got COVID for a second time in four months. His cardiovascular system was hit, his lungs hurt and he couldn’t stop coughing, he said. Training obviously came grinding to a halt as he had to stay in quarantine in his apartment.

The April trials were just three months away.

“The Olympic gold was a million miles away,” he said.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true having a gold around my neck.”

Countless Olympians have stories to tell about how the pandemic has intruded on their preparations for Tokyo and made it so much tougher than normal. But few have felt the effects of the illness as directly as Dean did — twice.

And even after the immediate symptoms subsided from his second infection in January, he couldn’t get straight back into the pool because of the lingering effects on his body. He was out of the pool for six to seven weeks, he said, trying to regain his strength.

“I’m thinking how am I going to be able to recover from this in time to get a solid block of work done before the Olympic trials?” he said. “It was tough kind of wrapping my head around that during an Olympic year.

“It wasn’t life-threatening … but when you are doing a sport that is quite heavy on the cardio-vascular system, and you can see it’s affecting your lungs, you’re coughing and all that stuff, you’re a little bit worried about how you’re going to build back in.”

The 21-year-old Dean feared his chance at an Olympic debut was gone but credited coach David McNulty for calming him down, and then building him back up again.

Dean’s victory was a surprise within Team GB, with teammate Scott tipped as the likelier gold-medal chance out of the two of them. Dean edged out Scott by just four-hundredths of a second, and also took the British record off Scott.

“He’s got big arms does Dean-o so you’d probably have to be several meters in front to touch him out,” said Scott, who handled his disappointment with grace.

“It was great. With what’s he’s (Dean) been through this year, it’s special.”

___

More AP Olympic coverage: https://www.apnews.com/OlympicGames and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom af...
Associated Press

A look at Brittney Griner’s career on, off basketball court

A timeline of key events in Brittney Griner’s career on and off the basketball court: Oct. 18, 1990: Brittney Griner was born in Houston. 2009: Led Nimitz High School to Texas 5A girls basketball state championship game where they lost. The 6-foot-7 star dunked 52 times as a senior, including seven times in one game […]
1 day ago
FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a courtroom af...
Associated Press

Griner for Bout: WNBA star freed in US-Russia prisoner swap

WASHINGTON (AP) — Russia freed WNBA star Brittney Griner on Thursday in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, with the U.S. releasing notorious Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, American and Russian officials said. The swap, at a time of heightened tensions over Ukraine, achieved a top goal for President Joe Biden, but carried a heavy price […]
1 day ago
El volante inglés Jude Bellingham previo al partido contra Senegal por los octavos de final del Mu...
Associated Press

Which World Cup starlet can replace Messi and Ronaldo?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are not ready to say goodbye to the World Cup just yet. But the clock is ticking on their careers and Qatar could be the last time we see them on soccer’s biggest stage. With that in mind, thoughts naturally turn to a new generation and […]
1 day ago
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, center, stands with his teammates during the World Cup round of 16 so...
Associated Press

Portugal stepping out of Ronaldo’s long shadow at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — To Bruno Fernandes, World Cup teammate Cristiano Ronaldo is the most famous athlete in sports. Joao Felix has described Ronaldo as “irreplaceable.” Gonçalo Ramos, Portugal’s new 21-year-old star, has never known his national team without Ronaldo involved in it. A future without the country’s greatest ever player could be a daunting […]
1 day ago
FILE - Spain's coach Jose Luis de la Fuente reacts during the men's final soccer match against Braz...
Associated Press

Luis Enrique replaced as Spain coach after World Cup exit

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Luis Enrique was replaced by Luis de la Fuente as Spain’s coach on Thursday, two days after the national team was eliminated in the round of 16 at the World Cup. Spain lost to Morocco 3-0 in a penalty shootout after a scoreless draw in regular and extra time. The Spanish […]
1 day ago
Spain's Ansu Fati, left, and Spain's Aymeric Laporte stand in dejection at the end of the World Cup...
Associated Press

Spain’s ‘tiki-taka’ under attack again after World Cup loss

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Morocco players fell back on defense and patiently watched as Spain kept passing the ball around midfield during their round of 16 match at the World Cup. Side to side, from one Spanish player to another. Pass after pass, Spain tried to find an opening through the Moroccan defense, but […]
1 day ago
Brit swimmer Dean beats COVID twice to win gold at Olympics