Scotland swim star Duncan Scott believes it may not be until the 2024 Olympics in Paris until he reaches the peak of what he can achieve in the sport.
The 21-year-old from Alloa is already Scotland’s most decorated athlete at a single Commonwealth Games after scooping a remarkable six pieces of silverware at Gold Coast earlier this year, and many are anticipating what he may be able to achieve at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in two years’ time.
However, Scott himself is not narrowing his focus and believes it may be into his late 20s that he is truly at his best.
Currently his focus is solely on the exciting prospect of racing back in Glasgow as part of the Great Britain team in the European Championships, which gets under way on Friday but Scott admits that, halfway through the Olympic cycle, Tokyo is looming ever larger.
“I think everyone who is in this British team is thinking Tokyo, it’s why we’re all here,” he said at the GB training camp at his home University of Stirling pool yesterday. “But I wouldn’t say I’m looking to peak for Tokyo. It’s in the progression. I might peak for that or it might be 2024, you just don’t know. I’m just trying to get better each year and see where I’m at.”
Scott announced his arrival as a global contender at the Commonwealth Games this year with a stunning gold medal swim in a high-class 100m freestyle which saw him beat Australia’s defending champion Kyle Chalmers and South African great Chad le Clos.
One of Britain’s greatest-ever swimmers, Rebecca Adlington, picked it as her highlight of the meet and has since tipped Scott to add to the two relay medals he won in Rio two years ago with an individual podium spot in Japan.
When Adlington’s comments of praise are brought up, Scott breaks into a broad grin and asks: “Is that when she said I had big balls?”
The now retired double Olympic champion was referring to the Scotsman’s courage in the pool, of course, and the Scot is happy to take the compliment.
“It’s obviously great to hear that from someone like Rebecca,” he said. “It’s not just someone who goes for a swim on a Sunday. This is arguably the best swimmer Britain has ever had.
“Whenever anyone says nice things about you it’s good to hear but when it’s somebody who has been to four Olympic finals and got four Olympic medals that’s a pretty good person to hear that from.”
Scott will be competing in the 100m freestyle, 200m freestyle, 200m individual medley and relays in Glasgow next week and, while there may be no Aussies and the like to contend with, views the European competition as tough, if not more so, than the Commonwealths. “In the 100m you have a medallist from worlds, Metelly Mehdy of France. And Vladimir Morozov of Russia is No 1 in the world. So straight off the bat you can see how it could be harder than Commonwealth Games,” said Scott, who is currently ranked sixth in the world in his favourite 100m, second in Europe
It is a far cry from his last major event at the Tollcross pool when he was a 17-year-old rookie in the Scottish team who ended up with a silver in the 4x200m relay.
He will dive back in to home water as a history maker, following his gold, silver and four bronzes in Australia.
“I’m obviously very proud of it. It will live with me for the rest of my life but hopefully someone comes along and breaks it,” he said. “But if it was a medal table Gregor Tait [two golds, a silver and two bronzes across three Games] would still be above me on it. I’d put him above myself.”