Duncan Scott qualified second on Thursday morning for Friday’s 200m individual medley final
Duncan Scott continued his imperious progress towards becoming the first British Olympian to win four medals at a single Games, qualifying along with four other team-mates for swimming finals on Friday morning.
Despite delivering the fifth fastest 200m leg in history during Wednesday’s 4x200m final, Scott has slipped somewhat under the radar compared to Adam Peaty and Tom Dean but has shown no sign of wilting through the most gruelling schedule and remains on course to end these Games with a unique achievement.
Henry Taylor (1908), Bradley Wiggins (2004), Chris Hoy (2008) and Jason Kenny (2016) currently share the record of three medals at any one Games but, on current form and after what is likely to be nine races spread across a single week, Scott will surpass those names.
He qualified second on Thursday morning for Friday’s 200m individual medley final and, with a relay gold and individual 200m silver already, there is also the likely showdown on Sunday with the United States in the 4x100m men’s medley.
Luke Greenback (200m backstroke), Anna Hopkin (100m freestyle), Abbie Wood and Molly Renshaw (both 200m breaststroke) had earlier also qualified for a series of finals on Friday that will all play out between 2.41am and 3.16am UK time.
There was an air of relief as Scott exited the pool at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre following the most intense 24-hour period of his week, which had begun on Wednesday morning with anchoring Team GB to their relay gold before his two 200m races in the individual medley.
Duncan Scott (L) won the 4x200m Freestyle Relay on Wednesday
Credit: GETTY IMAGES
Scott, who is 24 and graduated from the University of Stirling last month with a 2:1 in Business and Sports Studies, said that his already vast experience in accumulating 27 medals in various Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Games competitions was standing him in good stead.
David Bond, the institution’s Head of Performance Sport, told The Scotsman that Scott was a daily model of “grit, determination, discipline, professionalism and an exemplary work ethic” and an inspiration to students at Stirling.
“I’m prepared for the schedule and I have trained for it,” said Scott, revealing how he has preferred to remain focused inside Team GB’s swimming ‘bubble’ until Sunday morning rather than converse with friends and family in the UK.
That lack of contact was despite winning his first Olympic and gold and his first individual Olympic medal of any kind.
“With some other meets, I have learnt to try and not make the highs too high and minimise how much the lows can be as well,” he said. “At the end of the week, that’s when I can enjoy myself and relax but also look at how the week has gone and analyse every swim.
“It was important after the 200m freestyle (where he finished only 0.04 sec behind winner Tom Dean) to park it and move on. The 4x200m was coming up and we had a great opportunity although I’m still gutted about missing that world record (by 0.03 sec). I had to chill out and get ready. It’s about staying quite neutral through the week. You do get carried away with some of it, watching team-mates swim phenomenally makes it quite difficult, but it is something I have been able to do the last three or four years and I am getting better at it.”
Asked if he had spoken to people back home in Scotland, Scott said: “I have not spoken to anyone. A couple of mates have been messaging – and I messaged them back. I am not too bothered what the outside says in terms of how I have raced. I try to keep very much inside the bubble. I can’t say I have messaged anyone or looked at messages but I would say that I am really grateful for all the support I have had.”
James Wilby was earlier unable to continue Great Britain’s medal rush at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, fading to finish sixth in a fast 200m breaststroke final that was won in a new Olympic record by Izaac Stubblety-Cook.
The 27-year-old Wilby had been third after the first 100m, and had qualified second for the final but the 200m specialists came into their own on the final length. Wilby had also finished fifth in the 100m breaststroke and said that he may have paid a price for gearing his training to be competitive at both distances.
“I am gutted to individually leave the Olympics with nothing to show for it – no medal – but there are still more medals to be won in the team,” he said. “That’s the way we keep pushing in this family that we’ve got going. I enjoy the balance between the 100m and 200m but it hasn’t really paid off in these Games.”
Wilby’s mother works as an NHS nurse and has been administering Covid-19 vaccines. “My mum’s been putting in such a shift for me over the last 27 years and that’s probably been the main disappointment,” he said. “I know I’ve made her proud but I haven’t quite won the medal I would have liked win for her. I’m so f—— proud of her and for what’s she done for me and my brother.”
A second Olympic record was set on Thursday morning in the men’s 100m freestyle, with American Caeleb Dressel edging out Kyle Chalmers in a dramatic finale to clinch his second gold of these Games in 47.02 sec. He also won two gold medals in Rio de Janeiro but will face a major challenge from the British teams in the men’s and mixed 4x100m medley events. Team GB’s Alys Thomas also raced on Thursday morning, finishing seventh in the women’s 200m butterfly final.