Tokyo preparations are firmly on British breaststroke ace James Wilby’s mind but he isn’t getting carried away by the prospect of booking his seat on the plane just yet.
Wilby is set to compete at the LEN European Short Course Championships in Glasgow in December, vying not only for medals but also valuable momentum heading into Olympic selection in April.
The former Loughborough University student has represented Great Britain at every major competition apart from the Games, scooping 100m breaststroke silver at this summer’s World Championships as well as two more second places at the 2018 European Championships in Glasgow.
And it’s not long before Wilby returns to the city of his birth to compete at a venue he enjoys racing in, seeking to build confidence with a crucial year ahead.
“I’m always excited to go to Glasgow – I really enjoy swimming there and it’s a really good opportunity for me to implement some key things before going into Tokyo,” said the 25-year-old.
“The crowd in Glasgow are always very lively – they’re always getting behind the swimmers for every race and you can always hear that roar, so it makes it a really good environment.
“The Championships are going to be really, really important in acting as a springboard for Tokyo next year.
“Short course is a challenge for me, but we’re trying to rise to that challenge and push ourselves out of our comfort zone and perform at our best.
“There’s a lot to learn and a lot to practice, and then putting that into place for the next year is the overriding goal.”
Wilby has trained at close-quarters to 100m and 50m breaststroke world record holder Adam Peaty since an early age, beating him at the 2010 National Youth Championships but finishing closely behind at the 2018 Europeans and in Gwangju at the Worlds earlier this year.
Despite falling behind the 24-year-old in the pecking order, Wilby has nevertheless enjoyed considerable international success himself.
That’s come in the guise of winning gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the 200m breaststroke and being part of the team who won the 4x100m medley gold in Glasgow during the same year.
And although not an Olympian like Peaty just yet, Wilby says he’s determined to follow in his footsteps and make his Games debut in Tokyo next year.
“It would be very special to represent Great Britain at the Olympic Games,” he added.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to compete at every major championship during my career apart from the Olympic Games, so I’m really excited to have that opportunity.
“But there are plenty of steps along the way, so it’s a case of not getting ahead of myself too much but every now and then using it as a motivating factor.”
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