Euros give Michael Jamieson chance to prove himself

Michael Jamieson: 200m bid. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Michael Jamieson: 200m bid. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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ONLY two weeks after reaching such a crescendo in training that he had to have his heart restarted, Michael Jamieson will resume his quest for global breaststroke supremacy tomorrow at the European Short-Course Championships in Herning, Denmark.

Jamieson was quick to reassure fans and sponsors that his visit to A&E in Bath had nothing to do with the prospect of his heart stopping, rather that it simply needed reminding it didn’t have to work quite so hard outside the pool. He was pleased when a specialist said he had only ever witnessed such a freakish heart rate in a select bunch of athletes, all Olympic medallists like the Glaswegian.

To the amazement of everyone but the medical team who took care of him, Jamieson was free to resume training immediately after one overnight stay in hospital, and he insisted, as did his coaches, that he has no further health concerns. He can therefore get back to the matter of competition and one question in particular – how to beat Daniel Gyurta.

It is perhaps still too early in their head-to-head rivalry to call the Hungarian Jamieson’s nemesis but, in the London Olympics 200m final, the Scot finished in a new world-record time, only to find that Gyurta had gone even quicker. Over the coming days, Jamieson will have an opportunity, albeit in the 25m rather than 50m pool, to get his own back. Gyurta also consigned Jamieson to silver at the World Short-Course Championships which took place in Istanbul this time last year.

“I expect Daniel Gyurta to be at the front again, as he’s been so dominant in the 200m event over the past few years,” said Jamieson yesterday. “It will definitely take a British record and a big best time for me to challenge for that top spot but that’s what all of the hard work in training is aimed at.”

The heats of the 100m breaststroke take place tomorrow, with the final on Friday.

Jamieson’s preferred 200m event plays out over the weekend and, if Sunday night’s race is the one where he covets victory over all others, Jamieson – whose best previous result in this competition was a bronze, again behind Gyurta, in 2011 – is eager to put his good form during the FINA World Cup series this autumn to good use.

“I’m looking forward to racing in Denmark,” said the 25-year-old, whose long-course World Championship quest in the summer was hampered by a bicep injury. “I want to be challenging for major medals at every international and this one is no different. I’ve had a busy short-course season and it will be interesting to see the effect a busier racing schedule has on my performance.”

Craig McNally of Warrender is another of three Scots in the 12-strong British team currently limbering up in Denmark. The third is Hannah Miley, the reigning world and European short-course champion in the 400m individual medley who, like Jamieson, will fly home next week and head smartly to Glasgow for the Duel in the Pool. That will allow an elite band of swimmers who will be rivals in Denmark a rare chance to be complicit in battle with a shared enemy – the USA, who usually win the annual televised event by a wide margin.

Bill Furniss, the head British coach, sees only merit in such an intensive period of competition at the end of the year.

“Quite a few of the athletes will compete in Denmark off the back of a busy FINA World Cup series,” said Furniss. “They’ve had some good performances so far this season and I’ll be looking for this to continue through the Europeans before ending at the Duel in the Pool in Glasgow later this month.

“These short-course events give our athletes great opportunities to work on their race preparation and technique, while they continue to train in preparation for the busy year ahead, where focus will fall on the Commonwealth Games.

“I’ll be looking to see how athletes approach each event and how they make necessary adjustments to their performances in line with their progression from heats to finals.”