Swimmer Dean beats COVID-19 twice to win gold at Olympics
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, let alone Tokyo. He made it to both and much, much more, winning gold in the 200-meter freestyle on Tuesday and leading a historic 1-2 in swimming for Team Great Britain as teammate Duncan Scott took silver.
Britain's first 1-2 finish at Olympics in over 100 years
"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.
He contracted COVID-19 for second time in January
Dean wasn't sure that kind of swim would be possible for him in January when he got COVID-19 for the second time in four months. His cardiovascular system was hit, his lungs hurt and he couldn't stop coughing. Training obviously came to a grinding halt as he had to stay in quarantine in his apartment.
The Olympic gold was a million miles away: Dean
The April trials were just three months away. "The Olympic gold was a million miles away," he said. 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.
Dean was out of pool for six to seven weeks
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. He was out of the pool for six to seven weeks, he said, trying to regain his strength.
He credits his coach for helping him build back again
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, 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.
Meanwhile, Scott handled his disappointment with grace
"He's got big arms, 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," he added.