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Tom Dean relishing chance to swim in front of home fans at Commonwealth Games

Tom Dean celebrates his victory in the Olympic 200m freestyle final in Tokyo (Joe Giddens/PA)
Tom Dean celebrates his victory in the Olympic 200m freestyle final in Tokyo (Joe Giddens/PA)

Swimmer Tom Dean is relishing the prospect of the garden party revellers who watched him win Olympic gold in Tokyo on television being able to cheer him on in person at the Commonwealth Games.

The footage of Dean’s family and friends celebrating wildly in the early hours of the morning in his mum’s garden in Maidenhead went viral as he walked away from Japan with two gold medals, an event where spectators were kept away by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hot on the heels of three bronze medals at the World Championships in Hungary earlier this month, Dean cannot wait for the Commonwealth Games to get under way in a month’s time to feel the love from his nearest and dearest in person.

“My family and friends are trying to get up to Birmingham and watch me swim in person – there were some pretty exciting garden parties back here in the night of my races out in Japan, but it’s never the same as when they’re in person and you can see all the emotion,” he told the PA news agency.

“My mum was able to come to Budapest last week and get a first taste of live swimming in years. So it’s really exciting and there’ll be a whole ‘Team Dean’ support team in Birmingham.”

Dean admits it was “weird” competing without a crowd in Tokyo, and is looking forward to a raucous atmosphere at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre which could help him produce some special races and times.

“There were 10,000 people in Budapest last week, and when a Hungarian swimmer walked out you could tell – the roof just came off that place,” he said.

Dean pictured with his mum Jacquie Hughes at a welcome home event after the Olympics last summer
Dean pictured with his mum Jacquie Hughes at a welcome home event after the Olympics last summer (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“It gives you an extra boost, it gives you extra energy. When you’re in a relay especially and the crowd’s going crazy, it’s a tight race, it’s really when the special swims come out.

“Getting back in front of crowds is really exciting, it’s something I really relish. I feel like I grow in the arena and I can use it to my advantage.

“And that’s in foreign countries – this will be my home crowd, rooting for English swimmers, I get excited now just thinking about it, it’s going to be brilliant.”

Dean is set to compete in his main event, the individual 200m freestyle where he won gold in Tokyo, but also in the 100m freestyle and the 200m individual medley, as well as freestyle and medley relay races.

The swimming and para-swimming competition runs from July 29 to August 3, with the diving competition then running from August 4 to 8.

More than 1.2 million tickets have so far been sold for the Games, which is on course to be the best attended in the event’s history.