Swimmer Tom Dean’s friends and family erupted in celebration after he won gold for Great Britain in the 200-meter freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
But what made the victory all the more remarkable is that Dean, 21, contracted COVID-19 twice in his final months of preparation for the Games.
The first infection around September 2020 “wasn’t too bad,” he said. But the second bout with the coronavirus in January came just three months before Britain’s Olympic trials. It left him with a nonstop cough and hurt his lungs.
Dean was unable to train in the pool for more than six weeks as he recovered.
“When I was sitting in my flat in isolation, an Olympic gold seemed a million miles off,” Dean said following his win. “But my coach (Dave McNulty) brought me round and it’s all come together.”
Dean called his victory “the single greatest achievement of my life.”
His British teammate, Duncan Scott, won silver.