Former Brent school boy Tom Dean beats Covid to win Gold at the Tokyo Olympics
- Credit: PA
A former Brondesbury Park primary school boy has won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics - the first British male athlete to do so for freestyle swimming in 113 years.
Tom Dean stormed to victory in the men’s 200 metres freestyle in a time of one minute and 44.22 seconds, on Tuesday (July 27) ahead of his British compatriot Duncan Scott who collected silver at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.
The 21-year-old was recently given a good luck' send off by staff and pupils at Malorees Infant & Junior School, in Christchurch Avenue, which he attended as a youngster.
The Olympian had doubts about making it to the games after contracting Covid-19 twice in the last year.
After testing positive again in January when he was forced to take seven weeks out, he said his symptoms were much more severe, telling the BBC he could not walk up the stairs “without coughing and wheezing”.
He said: “When I was sitting in my flat in isolation, Olympic gold seemed like a million miles off. But here we are.”
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His mother Jacquie Hughes spoke of the moment she watched her son win the gold medal on the BBC's Today programme.
“I looked around at my other children and people in my garden in the early hours this morning, and they were all crying. I was just in shock.
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“We were all jumping around like whirling dervishes.
“Tom says he feels like he’s in a dream and I think I’m with him in the same dream.”
Ms Hughes also told Sky News that her son’s life has “changed forever”.
She said: “Before the race he was very quiet, contained and internal and very methodical, he knew what he had to do, he just wanted to get on with it.
“After the race he said: ‘Mum I just feel like I’m in a dream I knew I could win it but none of it’s sunk in.'”
Ms Hughes added: “I just said to him, ‘Tom my heart is bursting’ and it’s not just because you have won a gold medal it’s the way he conducts himself, the way he picks himself up after disappointment.
“He’s had two bouts of Covid this year, it’s really knocked his plan off. I’m just so proud of the way he approaches it.”
Additional reporting by Ted Hennessey, PA